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Soon a vaccine against malaria for the pregnant?

The first pregnancy is more risky
The first pregnancy is more risky

In areas where malaria is endemic the main victims are children under 3 years. Adults acquire over their lives the immunity that protects them against the parasite.

As for pregnant women, especially during their first pregnancy, the parasites can cause death. Parasites also cause spontaneous abortions, premature births or babies with birth weight too low, a serious handicap in countries where infant mortality is very high the first year.

Hence the value of work done by researchers from CNRS and the Pasteur Institute that has just been published by the American Academy of Sciences.

After the bite of an infective mosquito, the parasite multiplies in the liver, then goes into the bloodstream to invade circulating erythrocytes (red blood cells). It will then quickly change the erythrocyte surface that hosts incorporating different proteins.

The latter will allow the parasite to both escape the immune response of the host and to adhere to its cells. The severity of gestational malaria has been associated with the ability of parasitized erythrocytes to bind to a sugar (CSA) present in the placenta.

Fortunately, after several pregnancies, women acquire protective antibodies that block the accession. One of the strategies proposed for vaccine against malaria gestational recreate this protective immunity by blocking the adhesion of parasitized erythrocytes the placenta.

Earlier works have shown that a protein called var2CSA, played an important role in gestational malaria. This time, the researchers were able to produce the protein var2CSA in its entirety - to study and to discover its structure. For researchers, these results constitute a first step in the race to develop vaccine and therapeutic approaches to protect women during their first pregnancies and their fetuses.


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