Malaria parasites attack caught in the act for the first time (Photo)

By on Jan 20, 2011 in Australia, Health, Science Comments

Using a highly-sophisticated imaging technology, malaria parasites attacking blood cells were caught in the act for the first time by Australian scientists, as published at WEHI.edu.au on Thursday.

According to the report, high-resolution images of malaria parasites in act of invading human red blood cells were captured using the combination of electron, light and super resolution microscopy.

The imaging technology used was called OMX 3D SIM super resolution microscopy which was said to be new in Australia, is a powerful 3D tool that captures cellular processes being revealed.

The research team from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the University of Technology, in Sydney, Australia, was led by Dr. Jake Baum, Mr. David Riglar, and Dr. Dave Richard, in which their report was also published at Cell Host and Microbe journal.

“It is the first time we’ve been able to actually visualize this process in all its molecular glory, combining new advances developed at the institute for isolating viable parasites with innovative imaging technologies.” Dr. Jake Baum told the report.

As shown in the photo below which is in nanometer scale, there are 3 stages of how malaria parasites attack blood cells: attachment, invasion, and sealing.

To understand more on the behavior of the malaria parasites during the attack, color coded label were provided; with blue for parasite nucleus, red for secretory organelle, green for tight junction, while gray for the red blood cell.

The report added that scientists believe that this latest breakthrough in science could open windows of opportunities to develop more effective ways to treat the disease.

The team collaborated with Associate Professor Cynthia Whitchurch and Dr. Lynne Turnbull from i3 Institute at UTS to capture the images of these malaria parasites while in action.

Malaria, which is caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is being transmitted to humans via mosquitoes bites, where the report revealed that more than 400 million people people contract this disease every year, and about one million of them die, with most of them are children.

Malaria Parasites Attack
Photo credit: WEHI.edu.au


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