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Discovery of “essential receptor” on red blood cells raises hope of effective malaria vaccine

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7278 (Published 09 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7278
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

Researchers have identified a single receptor on the surface of red blood cells on which the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum relies to invade the cells. It is hoped that the discovery will lead to the development of the first fully effective vaccine against this or any other parasite.

The stage of the Plasmodium lifecycle when the parasite invades human erythrocytes is the stage that is responsible for the symptoms of malaria and mortality, so vaccine researchers have been targeting the erythrocyte entry mechanism for years.

Several receptors on the surface of the erythrocyte that interact with ligands on the merozoite, the …

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