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article imageProtein discovery could help prevent malaria deaths

By Tim Sandle     May 11, 2014 in Science
Stockholm - Malaria can be mild or deadly. However, there is no way to tell which patients are at risk of developing more dangerous forms of the disease. New research suggests that different proteins affect the seriousness of the disease.
Currently there is no way to tell which patients are at risk of developing more dangerous forms of the malaria, such as cerebral malaria. Often the seriousness of a malaria case is not evident until it's too late.
New research is aimed at distinguishing patients with lethal variants of the parasitic illness from the ones with mild malaria. This could enable health workers to understand early on whether a patient needs extra care.
The research looks at proteins that appear in the blood plasma of children with severe malaria syndromes. In a study of more than 1,000 different proteins in blood samples from more than 700 children, 500 of whom were infected with malaria, the researchers found 13 individual proteins that distinguish patients with uncomplicated malaria from those with more serious variants of the disease.
From this understanding, it is hoped that a diagnostic test can be developed based around the use of these proteins as "biomarkers."
The study was carried out at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. The findings have been published in the journal PLoS Pathogens in a paper titled "Affinity Proteomics Reveals Elevated Muscle Proteins in Plasma of Children with Cerebral Malaria."
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