Medical researchers have found a protein, which plays a crucial role in malaria infection, and may lead to potential new drug to fight the disease.
Malaria, which is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium falciparum, transmitted to humans via mosquito bite, causes half a million deaths worldwide each year.
A team of scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that a Kupffer cell protein called CD68 was needed for parasite passage and efficient liver infection, as mice lacking CD68 had 70 percent fewer parasites in their livers compared to intact animals.
If this reduction is sufficient to substantially limit blood infections, CD68 may represent a potential new drug target in the fight against malaria.
If these results hold up in humans, drugs that target this entry protein might help prevent the spread of disease.
The study is published in Journal of Experimental Medicine.