Malaria is a disease caused by Plasmodium parasites that are transmitted by mosquitoes. Severe cases cause hundreds of thousands of deaths per year, infant mortality/low-birth weight/abnormal neurological development, anemia and respiratory distress, while mild cases cause fever/fatigue/vomiting. Afflicted countries endure severe economic distress as a byproduct of this human suffering. Luckily, in the US we are isolated from this disease because of our geography: our climate does not support transmission of the parasites.
Here, researchers from London identify a family of parasite-derived proteins that allow the most virulent species of Plasmodium parasites to hide from the immune system in red blood cells, while simultaneously causing blood clots that result in most malaria-related mortality. The best news? The proteins are kinases, a class of proteins that are easily targeted therapeutically.