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Malaria’s Invasion Imaged

By Stephen Luntz

The process by which the malaria parasite makes its way into red blood cells has been observed in astonishing detail.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Malaria’s Invasion Imaged

The findings, published in Cell Host & Microbe, may help the search for new drugs against the killer disease.

Dr Jake Baum of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) says the observations required bringing together several lines of work, while developments in super resolution microscopy allowed extraordinarily detailed three-dimensional images of the process.

“Super resolution microscopy has opened up a new realm of understanding into how malaria parasites actually invade the human red blood cell,” Baum says. “Whilst we have observed this miniature parasite drive its way into the cell before, the beauty of the new imaging technology is that it provides a quantum leap in the amount of detail we can see, revealing key molecular and cellular events required for each stage of the invasion process.”

However, the imaging technology was only one part of the challenge. The malaria parasite needed to be isolated in its free form, and it was only recently that WEHI was part of the first isolation of large numbers of parasites outside cells.

Furthermore, while super resolution microscopy provided the most impressive images, Baum says that other technologies were used in combination, including “fluorescence microscopy to give a more holistic view of the cell, with fantastic localisation of proteins”.

The...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.