(RxWiki News) Australian scientists have achieved the most detailed and vivid images of the malaria parasite invading red blood cells ever to be captured, offering a glimpse into how the mosquito-borne illness works.
Malaria, a mosquito-borne disease caused by microscopic parasitic organisms, infects 400 million people every year all around the world and kills roughly one million people annually.
A team of researchers in Australia have provided the first images of the malaria parasite invading red blood cells. Their findings show how the parasite "burrows" through the blood cell walls. Understanding how this organism works at every stage of infection is key in fighting the disease.
While the malaria parasite had been observed before, new super resolution microscope technology allowed scientists for the first time to see this in spectacular detail, what Dr. Jake Baum calls a "quantum leap" in visibility.
The team's findings could open the door to observing and understanding the way that other bacteria and viruses invade cells, not only malaria. It also offers brand new opportunities to test and monitor the way new vaccines and drugs interact with diseases like malaria in the human body.
The most interesting revelation, according to Dr. Baum, is the ease with which the malaria parasite breaks into the red blood cells, inserting "its own window into the cell, which is then opens and uses to walk into the cell."
Dr. Baum says the results of this study have been a goal of his for almost 8 years and will provide "a real leap for malaria researchers worldwide." Images may be seen here http://www.cell.com/cell-host-microbe/abstract/S1931-3128(10)00413-0.