Scientists say they can use their information about how malaria parasite invades human red blood cells to develop an anti-malaria vaccine.
Researchers at the Sanger Institute in Cambridge (UK) pinpointed a single receptor for a protein that is critical for the parasite to gain entry into red blood cells before multiplying and spreading.
Blocking the receptor can stop the killer disease and prove a good way to design a vaccine, the team says.
“Our research seems to have revealed an Achilles heel in the way the parasite invades our red blood cells,” said Gavin Wright who co-led the study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
“The great hope is that this breakthrough will facilitate the path toward a more effective vaccine,” he added.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne parasitic disease that affects 300 million people, killing around 800,000 individuals every year, the vast majority of whom are children of the Sub-Saharan Africa.
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