Thursday, 10 November 2011


I have been obsessed with the malaria parasite for nearly a decade now. Not like a scientist in a laboratory would be, but it my own way. I kept up with the research, kept thinking it through, drawing my own diagrams and often wondering what I would do if I were the parasite. I have lots of respect for this bug. It is very clever. I say that for lack of a better word.

Now scientists are getting closer to finding a vaccine. It is very exciting that they have identified the receptors involved.  After reading this I went looking for one of my first papers on malaria, written nearly eleven years ago (nerd, I know, I keep them all). I also kept it because I enjoyed writing it so much. The good thing about keeping old papers is that I get to revisit questions I was not able to answer back then, questions that come up when you do your literature reviews. Sometimes the papers are down right embarrassing.

What I had learned back then was that the four different types of malaria parasites seem to be attracted to red blood cells in various stages of development. P.falciparum, the most virulent of them all, invades red cells of all ages where as P.vivax and P.ovale prefer younger red cells and P.malariae seeks mature cells. So my question was to do with the difference in molecular structure of the red blood cells in its various stages of development. This article kind of gets at that. I am sure it is a matter of time before we learn enough to confer protection for those most at risk.

Sometimes it is just as exciting to be a spectator of science. I love it!

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