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Dr Peter Bull comments on new malaria research

last modified Oct 29, 2015 10:55 AM

Image: James Gathany, CDC
The most deadly species of malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, manufacture molecules called PfEMP1 that make parasites stick to blood vessel linings in the brain and other organs. Very similar molecules have now been discovered (see here) in malaria parasites that infect chimpanzees and gorillas. This suggests that the kind of brain pathology we find in humans with severe malaria has its roots in an extremely ancient host-parasite interaction.