UoH researchers decode malaria

Our Bureau Hyderabad | Updated on March 27, 2021

Findings could be the next step in finding a cure for Malaria

A novel discovery led by a team of researchers from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) could be the next big step in finding a cure for malaria.

The research team of researchers led by Prof. Mrinal Bhattacharya from the University of Hyderabad found a correlation between the fever that is induced by malaria and the antigenic variation of the malarial parasites.


The Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte-membrane-protein 1 (PfEMP1) (the protein from the malarial parasite under current study) is the most predominant molecular determinant of antigenic variation in this parasite.

There could be up to 90 variants of this protein and only one protein is expressed at a given time, and this expression is completely random. These proteins do not live through multiple generations as the malaria parasites keep changing from one protein form to the other, hence the human host fails to mount a robust antibody response against these variant proteins.

``The present study uncovered how the parasites manipulate the expression of malarial proteins on the surface of the infected red blood cells in response to fever, which is the most common manifestation of the disease,’’ UoH said in a release on Saturday.

The researchers found that exposure to febrile temperature modulates the expression of virulence genes that could impact chronicity of malaria infection.

Other observations

The findings suggest that targeting the parasitic proteins involved in the heat-shock response during fever is likely to restrict the antigenic variation in the parasites and thereby prevent malaria.

These findings are published in a reputed journal Molecular Microbiolog by a team lead by UoH professor Mrinal Kanti Bhattacharyya and his students, Wahida Tabassum and Shalu Varunan (Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad) in collaboration with Sunanda Bhattacharyya (Department of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad).

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum transmitted among humans through bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) report of 2019 estimated 229 million malaria cases and malaria deaths at 4,09, 000 worldwide. Children below the age of 5 years are the most vulnerable and accounted for 67 pc (2,74,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.

Published on March 27, 2021

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