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Tags Current Affairs

Breakthrough in fight against Malaria

Date: 16 January 2020 Tags: Biotechnology

Issue

Scientists at the CSIR- Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have announced development of an alternative and economic way of gene delivery within the Plasmodium Falciparum cells, responsible for majority of severe cases of malaria and deaths, called the ‘Lyse-Reseal’ method.

 

Background

World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 3.4 billion people across 92 countries to be at risk of being infected with Plasmodium parasites and suffering from malaria

 

Details

  • Malaria occurs when Plasmodium parasites grow in the oxygen-carrying Red Blood Cells (RBCs) in the body. A malaria biologist has to cross a four-membrane layer to reach the genes.

  • Gene delivery into the target cells is a popular choice to manipulate and study gene functions with the widely used method ‘electroporation’ where pores are created in the cell membrane using electric field to send desired chemicals like DNA.

  • The team working with Plasmodium ‘Falciparum’ has been able to fill in RBCs by opening them up,  a process also called ‘lyse’, with circular DNA of their choice. The RBCs are then resealed to close the pores and these are infected with Plasmodium ‘Falciparum’.

  • The parasite goes inside the RBC and passively takes up the DNA from RBC. The DNA eventually ends up in the parasite’s nucleus with its own genes.

  • The group has shown the technique to be as effective as ‘electroporation’ with two different Plasmodium ‘Falciparum’ strains and claim it works with 10 times lesser DNA than what is needed in ‘electroporation.

  • The scientific group also demonstrated that RBCs of blood group ‘O+’ provide the most efficient delivery of DNA into Plasmodium ‘Falciparum’ in vitro.

  • Ease of making genetic alterations in the parasite will help in better understanding the biology of malaria pathogen and, thereby, help in control of the malaria parasite better.

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