Lauren Smith and Steve Haase Publish Major Finding on Malaria

Red blood cells infected by malaria.

Biograd Lauren Smith and Associate Professor Steve Haase have published a new paper in Science, "An Intrinsic Oscillator Drives the Blood Stage Cycle of the Malaria Parasite, Plasmodium Falciparum."  Smith and her colleagues grew the malaria parasites in vitro, using human blood cells, and observed that expression of about 90% of the parasite’s genes was synchronized.  With no human host to contribute to time-keeping, the experiment demonstrated that the malaria parasite has its own internal clock that governs its life cycle, rather than being controlled by the host.  “This is a genuinely exciting and surprising result,” said Steve Kay, a biologist at the University of Southern California. 

The research  opens new possibilities for treatment of a disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people every year.  If we can figure out if and how the malaria parasite synchronizes the ticking of its clock with that of its host, Haase said, we might be able to disrupt those signals and help the human immune system better fight these invaders.  Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.  Well done, Lauren and Steve!

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"Malaria parasite ticks to its own internal clock"