Wellcome Trust Logo The deadly parasite namely Plasmodium falciparum plays a key role in instigating malaria by intruding human red blood cells. Comprehending how and why, scientists from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have found that the parasite is apparently dependent on a single receptor present on the red blood cell’s surface.

This finding may pave the path to development of a vaccine. Seemingly, the parasite is able to switch to another receptor in case one of them is prohibited. As per this revelation, one single receptor seems to be thoroughly contributing to the invasion process of malaria.

“Our findings were unexpected and have completely changed the way in which we view the invasion process. Our research seems to have revealed an Achilles’ heel in the way the parasite invades our red blood cells. It is rewarding to see how our techniques can be used to answer important biological problems and lay the foundations for new therapies,” remarked Dr Gavin Wright, senior co-author from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

By accessing a method called Avidity-based Extracellular Interaction Screen (AVEXIS), the communications between the parasite protein and host receptor was unfolded. Furthermore, the team demonstrated that impeding this interaction presumably prevented the parasite from invading red blood cells.

This result seemed to work with all strains of the parasite implying that the receptor could be a universal entry pathway. The researchers believe that this dependence of the parasite on the receptor can be taken advantage of, to develop effective therapeutic options including vaccines.