Friday, July 23, 2010

Antibiotics prevent malaria

Preventative malaria "treatment with affordable and safe antibiotics...has the potential to act as a 'needle-free' natural vaccine against malaria", according to a study published in the journal, Science Translation Medicine. This type of treatment "may likely provide an additional valuable tool for controlling and/or eliminating malaria in resource-poor settings."

During research, the multinational team "found that infection with malaria parasites during administration of preventative antibiotics developed a vaccine-like immunity against re-infection."

Approximately one million people die from malaria each year and nearly half of the world's population is at risk of contracting malaria, a mosquito-transmitted parasite. "Only an estimated 10 to 100 parasites per mosquito bite invade the liver where they replicate. About a week after infection, tens of thousands of parasites are released into the bloodstream where they are responsible for malaria's recurring fevers and cause life-threatening complications."

The proposed treatment attacks parasites "during their passage into the liver of the infected host. The "researchers showed that the antibiotics caused a cellular defect in malaria parasites...This action did not prevent parasite replication in the liver but blocked the malaria parasite's fatal conversion to the disease causing blood stage. The very late arrest of parasites in the liver allowed the immune system to mount a robust defense against subsequent infections." In this way, the body produces results that are comparable to vaccines that use weakened varieties of the parasite.

Further reading:
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) (2010, July 23). 'Needle-free' intervention as natural vaccine against malaria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2010, from­ /releases/2010/07/100723112711.htm

1 comment:

  1. Preventative use of antibiotics is a controversial topic. One argument against the widespread-use of antibiotics is the creation of "super-bugs" (diseases that are resistant to traditional antibiotic treatments). Would you risk the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria if it could save a million lives each year?