Double Breakthrough may Combat Malaria
Reported December 09, 2008
(Ivanhoe Newswire) — The discovery of new protein biomarkers in the blood may help doctors detect two dangerous forms of malaria earlier.
Scientists recently found women with placental malaria — a form of the disease that develops in the placenta of a pregnant woman and affects her unborn child — carry a protein in their blood that is dangerous when uncontrolled. They found the protein is over-activated by malaria infection and causes an excessive inflammatory response and abnormal blood vessel growth in the placenta.
In another study, scientists found children with cerebral malaria — the deadliest form of the disease — carry abnormal levels of proteins that regulate certain blood vessels. These protein levels were accurate in predicting which children would die.
Both discoveries could help doctors identify malaria in its early stages, leading to more effective treatments.
“A test that helps detect placental malaria means women can be treated earlier in pregnancy, reducing the risk of death or anemia for them, and perhaps saving their babies form malformation or miscarriage,” lead author of the placental malaria study Dr. Kevin Cain, director of the Sandra A. Rotman Laboratories at the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health in Toronto, was quoted as saying.
The second discovery could lead to new drugs for the treatment of cerebral malaria.
SOURCE: Presented at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Dec. 7-11, 2008