According to the researchers, this unanticipated discovery sheds fresh light on how the human body reacts to malaria infections and might eventually aid in the development of new malaria treatments or vaccinations.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 400,000 individuals die every year from malaria infections, with more than two-thirds of these fatalities occurring in children under the age of five. The WHO approved the broad use of a novel malaria vaccination in children living in areas with moderate to high malaria transmissions in early October 2021, making it the first human vaccine for a parasite infection to be approved. While the vaccine would save the lives of thousands and prevent millions of diseases, the researchers are working on the next generation of malaria vaccinations, which might be even more successful. Malaria, a pathogenic disease spread by mosquitoes in tropical climates, is commonly assumed to be a blood and liver illness. The University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers discovered antibodies largely generated in response to the infection in the mucous membranes—such as the lungs, intestines, or vagina—among participants in the study with malaria in a recent study.
The immune system of the body produces a variety of antibodies to aid in the healing of illnesses and the prevention of reinfection. The research team had previously looked at other antibody responses in malaria patients in a short trial. They identified IgM antibodies, which show early in many illnesses, as well as IgG antibodies, which are the most numerous. They also found IgA antibodies. The team decided to conduct new research to evaluate more samples and investigate various groups of people to verify their findings.
The researchers looked at antibodies taken from the blood of 54 adult research volunteers after they were infected with malaria in the lab—either via an IV placed directly into the blood or by mosquito bites. They also assessed at blood samples of 47 children from West Africa, who had been recruited in a malaria vaccination trial and had contracted the disease during the research period. The researchers discovered substantial amounts of IgA antibodies in the malaria-infected adults. Furthermore, 10 of the children exhibited IgA antibody levels that were equivalent to those of the adults who were examined. Researchers can now test to determine if IgA antibodies restrict malaria parasites from entering the red blood cells or liver. They could also look into which proteins in malaria-specific IgA antibodies target and see if they'd be suitable vaccine candidates.