Thursday, January 30, 2014

An interlude about malaria

I interrupt my blogging about the State of the Union to bring news about the most widespread and deadly parasitic disease on the planet, malaria.  For such a dread malady, it turns out that I've mentioned it only three times, with one story in a research new compendium each year.  That's not much for a a disease that infects at least 350 million people each year and kills about one million of them, mostly children in Sub-Saharan Africa.*  Then, I stumbled across two articles about malaria while compiling Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (2013 fourth warmest year) on Daily Kos last Saturday.  I've taken care of my content about malaria for this and next!

First, Tulane University with Researchers use E.coli to make potential malaria vaccine.
A Tulane University researcher has found a way to use E.coli bacteria to cheaply manufacture a once hard-to-produce protein critical to the development of a potential transmission-blocking malaria vaccine.

Nirbhay Kumar, professor and chair of tropical medicine at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, worked with Evelina Angov of the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research to use the common bacteria to create a new process to purify and refold protein CHrPfs25. When tested as a vaccine, the protein produced a 100 percent effective malaria transmission-blocking antibody response in mice using the two most common species of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, according to results to be published in the April issue of the journal Infection and Immunity.

Malaria, which kills nearly 800,000 people every year worldwide, is caused by a microscopic parasite that alternates between human and mosquito hosts at various stages of its lifecycle. Kumar’s vaccine seeks to trigger an immune response in people so they produce antibodies that target a protein the malaria parasite needs to reproduce within a mosquito.
Next, Penn State describes Modernizing malaria research through a new, interdisciplinary approach.
Huck Institutes faculty researcher Manuel Llinás uses cutting-edge techniques in metabolomics and genomics in effort to beat malaria-causing Plasmodium parasite.

Despite a relatively low incidence of malaria in the United States since the 1950s, the disease continues to pose a major threat to nearly half the world's population.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 3.4 billion people in 97 countries live in areas at risk of malaria transmission. In 2012, according to WHO estimates, there were 207 million cases of malaria worldwide resulting in 627,000 deaths.

“The literature on malaria is over a hundred years old,” says Manuel Llinás, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State. “It's a very well-studied disease. It's one of the most classic illnesses of humankind. And yet we currently still have no great ways to actually tackle this thing.”
I now return to the regularly scheduled blogging about the State of the Union.

*Pay attention to what I did there.  Those are all links to stories about malaria written by me during one year for  That's not all.  I wrote a fourth as well: MSU Physician wins AMA Foundation Excellence in Medicine Award.  Now I've made up for lost time.


  1. Pinku, I'm heading up the Green Wizardry reboot, could you get in touch with me, i'd like to discuss a few things with you. You can leave me your email by posting a comment on the new site here:

    I can read the email in the admin section and will email you back.

    You don't have to put this comment thru publically if you don't want.

    David Trammel

    1. I've got someone's attention. That's interesting. That's very interesting.