Washington: Using a novel human liver-chimeric mouse model developed at Oregon Health and Science University and Yecuris Corporation, researchers at Seattle Biomedical Research Institute have made e a breakthrough that will greatly accelerate studies of the most lethal forms of human malaria.Plasmodium falciparum, one of two human-specific malaria parasites, is a global health crisis, causing more than 216 million new infections annually and resulting in an estimated 655,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.Sporozoites, the infectious form of the parasite, are spread to people through the bites of infected mosquitos and multiply in the human liver during the initial stages of infection. There, they undergo liver stage development, culminating in the formation and release of tens of thousands of merozoites, the parasitic phase of development that infects red blood cells.Until now, there have been few data on human malaria liver stage biology due to the lack of a viable small animal model and because liver stage P. falciparum does not grow well in a dish. Consequently, most research and therapeutics to date have targeted the human blood stage of P. falciparum’s development because it replicates well in culture.The liver-to-blood stage of P. falciparum is the focus of this research because the parasite is virtually harmless, causing no disease symptoms, prior to its transition to the blood stage.
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