In a recent study published in the international journal Cell, scientists from Oxford University and other institutions identified a human antibody that could inhibit malaria parasites from entering blood cells. Related research may help to develop a new and efficient malaria vaccine.
Professor Simon Draper said that when bitten by mosquitoes carrying Plasmodium, the parasite first enters human liver tissue and then moves into the blood. In the blood of the host, the parasite replicates 10 times every 48 hours, which is the blood stage that causes infection, and can cause disease and may be fatal. Plasmodium carries a protein called RH5, which must bind to the basic immunoglobulin (basigin) in blood cells to infect the host. In this study, the researchers clarified which human antibodies can effectively block the binding of RH5 to basigin, thereby preventing the spread of Plasmodium through the blood.
So far, the researchers do not know which specific antibodies can be produced by vaccinating human volunteers, which can effectively block the binding of RH5 to red blood cells. When a person is vaccinated, his or her body produces different types of antibodies to resist the same RH5 target, so it is particularly important to understand which specific antibodies are effective against malaria. Another key point of the study is that the researchers identified a new antibody that can play a role by slowing the binding of RH5 to red blood cells. Plasmodium can still invade the host, but the antibody can effectively slow down the invasion, which may give the antibodies that block RH5 more time to play a role, thus making it more effective. This may be a very exciting new discovery, as the results suggest that antibodies that do not prevent Plasmodium from entering red blood cells may still be able to work because they can play a role by producing more potential protective antibodies.
There is an urgent need for researchers to develop an effective malaria vaccine. Despite the increasing use of pesticides and drugs to prevent malaria in malaria-endemic areas, malaria still kills about 430000 people a year. Now scientists have not successfully developed an effective vaccine against Plasmodium infection, but the malaria vaccine based on RH5 has begun to bear fruit, and later researchers will continue to carry out trials in the United Kingdom and Africa.
Finally, researcher Draper said, we all know that the key to stopping malaria is the body’s strong immune response, so every antibody is very important. Next, based on the results of this study, we will develop an improved RH5 vaccine to induce more effective antibody production, and eventually produce a better vaccine to effectively prevent malaria infection and transmission.