Cell Biology

In the Wild

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Science  01 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5961, pp. 13
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5961.13-c

Malaria is one of the most prevalent infectious diseases and kills around 900,000 people per year. It is caused by parasites of the genus Plasmodium, which are transmitted to humans by mosquitoes and enter red blood cells, causing fever and, if left untreated, death. Human pathogens of all kinds can develop resistance to the most effective drugs, such as artemisinin, so there is a constant need to identify new compounds. Animal models of malaria have proven problematic to establish, and most studies have used laboratory cultures of human blood cells to grow the parasites. While important insights into the life cycle and pathogenic action of Plasmodium have come from these in vitro studies, a recent study of clinically isolated samples of Plasmodium in comparison to laboratory cultures revealed differences in gene expression profiles. Acharya et al. have analyzed the protein expression profiles of two species of Plasmodium that were isolated from the blood of patients; they identified about 100 proteins, some of which had not been found in laboratory cultures and could make promising drug or vaccine targets.

Proteomics Clin. Appl. 3, 1314 (2009).

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