Micro-organisms in the gut have the potential to reduce the severity of malaria, suggests a new study.
Gut microbes can also be modified to prevent severe malaria, the findings showed.
The severity of malaria is not only a function of the parasite or the host but also is influenced by the microbes in the infected organism, the study revealed.
“The research provides a potential new avenue to investigate factors that control the severity of malaria. With one million people dying each year, many of whom are young children, any approach that may save even a few lives is worth following up on,” said Steven Wilhelm from the University of Tennessee, US.
An increased abundance of bacteria common in yogurt was found in the mice that exhibited reduced malaria pathology.
When the mice, used for the study, were fed yogurt containing the bacteria, the severity of malaria decreased, the researchers said.
While the interventions lessened the severity of malaria in mice, it did not prevent or cure it, noted the researchers in the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease, and those with the illness often experience fever, chills and flu-like symptoms. It may be fatal if left untreated. Malaria transmissions typically occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
During the study, the researchers examined the gut microbiomes of mice and measured it — via DNA sequencing of the bacteria in the digestive tract — and noted significant differences within the different populations.
They then directly transferred the gut microbiomes to other mice and were able to show that the differences in the disease severity were transferred.