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Less is Better- Malaria and its Parasite

New research by scientists proves that the odds of dying with a malaria infection are less if the host eats limited amounts of food. The infectious agent responsible for malaria is called the plasmodium parasite. This parasite is able to sense and proactively adapt to nutritional status of the host. Statistics show that up to 200 million new infections listed every year and malaria kill’s one child every minute; although majority those infected still survive.

A team of scientists from Instituto De Medicina Molecular in Lisbon used mouse models infected from malaria to conduct the study. Plasmodium parasites multiplies inside the red blood cells every 48 hours. The study has revealed that this rate of replication directly depends on the calorie intake of the host which ultimately decides the final outcome of the infection, be it survival or death. It was found that a particular enzyme called KIN acts as a nutrient sensor and regulator of parasites, to which the parasite adapts very quickly. Apparently, mice that ate 30% fewer calories had a lower replication rate of the parasite. An advanced understanding of the system will help the researchers to develop strategies to trick the parasite and lower their rate of replication.

By: Shatrujit Singh Chauhan