The good folks over at the University of Nottingham’s School of Life Sciences have looked into Plasmodium, a malaria parasite, and found the key protein that allows it to grow. The discovery can help lead scientists to figuring out how to put malaria to bed for good.
Malaria has been making life hard for thousands of people all around the world and the study, issued in PLOS Pathogens, found that cyclin, a protein molecule, is helping malaria numbers rise. Pathogen carrying mosquitoes have an interesting link with cyclin.
What this protein does is basically affect cell division. It helps speed things up for the parasite by making cells divide at a much faster pace.
These proteins have been noted in plants and humans before but the study is the first of its kind to take a deeper look at their link to mosquitoes.
Study Explains What Is Causing Malaria’s Growth
Assistant Professor Bill Wickstead, who characterized cyclin-like genes among parasites called Apicomplexa with the help of Alexander Douglass, said that cyclins come in a large variety and the proteins in question consist of many different types, varying based on the organism in question.
“What’s interesting is that Plasmodium contains a really small set of unusual composition,” explained Wickstead. He added that this was likely to be related to the unusual cell and life-cycles.
The lead researcher on the study, Magali Roques, said that the study will help shed more light on how cell division works in terms of such parasites. The study could one day lead to the demise of the disease altogether.
Studies like these are important and have a global significance. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that every year malaria causes numerous deaths all over the world. The developing world is especially worse off. In 2012 alone over 207 million cases of malaria emerged worldwide. Many of the cases are seen to originate from sub-Saharan Africa, but places like South Asia do no better.
What Causes Malaria To Spread?
In 2015, around 214 million cases have been found and over 438,000 people have died, and the year isn’t over yet.
The disease, which begins with flu like symptoms, can escalate and cause a whole lot of trouble to the patient. Terrible chills, high fevers, nausea, vomiting and more can affect the patient that is suffering from malaria. In some cases the disease can also take an ugly turn and result in more grief.
By studying this cell division perhaps researchers could figure out a way to slow it down and stop it instead of allowing it to continue with the speed that it occurs.