Malaria is one of the most common and deadly diseases found on our planet, causing more than half a million deaths on an annual basis and infecting more than 3 million people per year. So the news that the malaria key protein has been found, the key that explains the diseases fast reproduction and multiplication rate, is tremendously positive.
The parasite known as Plasmodium is the culprit behind malaria. It is largely transmitted by mosquito bites and affects countries with warm climate and increased humidity. Knowing what makes plasmodium spread extremely fast inside the body of its host is paramount in order to combat it in a most effective manner.
After a bite from an infected mosquito transmits the parasite, it takes around 15 days for the disease settle in, with symptoms ranging from headaches to high fevers and vomiting, leading to aggressive seizures and eventually coma or the death of the host.
The reason for its fast reproductive rate is the cyclin protein, a specific molecule used for cell division. Though protein has been extensively studied in humans and plants, its applicability in parasite research has never been considered, until now.
After studies have been made in order to discover what makes plasmodium tick, researchers have found that there are three different cyclin proteins found inside the parasite. This discovery has shown why the parasite has such an alarming division rate leading to its fast evolution and immunity to drugs, giving researchers and scientists the tools in order to combat it.
The protein which was further studied upon was the cyclin protein known as CYC3. This protein is commonly found it plants and regulates cell division inside the parasite itself. By infecting lab rats with a strain of malaria in which the plasmodium virus had its CYC3 removed, scientists found that extensive abnormalities started to appear during the division process.
In doing so, the way was paved for researchers to better understand the nature of parasite division, especially when it comes to the parasitic plasmodium. This type of parasite is special because it can divide both sexually and asexually, a process known as endomitosis (the cell divides but the nucleus does not).
By learning how to better control its divisibility and eventually stopped all-together through the deletion of certain proteins within the parasitic organism, malaria will be a thing of the past. At least that’s what scientists are hoping to achieve, after the malaria key protein has been found, and hopefully in the near future, because with the increased temperatures that the planet is facing due to global warming, malaria will spread more and more on the globe.