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article imagePotential antimalarial drug made from algae

By Tim Sandle     Feb 23, 2015 in Science
Scientists have used algae to produce a malaria parasite protein. When the algae-produced protein is paired with an immune-boosting cocktail, studies showed generated antibodies in mice were able to eliminate a mosquito infection.
For the study, scientists created algae based micro-factory to produce a malaria parasite protein. In studies using mice, the algae-produced protein, when it was paired with an immune-boosting cocktail, generated the necessary antibodies to wipe out a mosquito infection by the malaria parasite.
Malaria is the result of a single-celled parasite belonging to genus Plasmodium. The parasite is transmitted by mosquitoes in some 100 countries and it presents a risk to about 3.3 billion people. Mosquitoes spread the parasite to humans through their bites. The parasite then travels to the liver, where it matures and reproduces in forms that infect the red cells and cause clinical symptoms.
The aim of the new drug-cocktail is to prevent transmission of the malaria parasite from infected humans to mosquitoes. The aim is to create enough people with sufficient immunity to slow-down or eliminate the infection spread.
The protein used is the study is called Pfs25. This protein is located on the surface of the malaria parasite's reproductive cells. It only appears within the mosquito's gut after it feeds on a malaria-infected blood meal. Antibodies against Pfs25 are able to slowdown the parasite's lifecycle in the mosquito and theoretically block transmission of the parasite to the next victim.
Creating the proteins in a laboratory is difficult. This is where the algae factory comes in. The type of algae use was one currently used to manufacture biofuels. The Pfs25 protein was produced by adding a gene into the algae by injecting DNA into the algal cell nucleus. The alga then produces the protein through replication.
Trials in mice showed that this bio-factory produced protein was suitable and effective.
The findings have been published in the journal Infection and Immunity. The research paper is titled “Algae-produced malaria transmission-blocking vaccine candidate Pfs25 formulated with a human use-compatible potent adjuvant induces high affinity antibodies that block Plasmodium falciparuminfection of mosquitoes.”
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