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Dr. Eleonora SchönherrPresse- & ÖffentlichkeitsarbeitPhone: +49 40 42818-269
Mail: presse(at)bnitm.de

Julia HäberleinPresse- & ÖffentlichkeitsarbeitPhone: +49 40 42818-264
Mail: presse(at)bnitm.de

Proteins of Plasmodium Falciparum Binding to Vessel Walls

Many of the surface molecules of blood vessels used by Plasmodium falciparum to attach its red blood cell are present in the vessels of certain organs only. Therefore, it happens that only a single organ is affected at a given time of a P. falciparum infection. We have expressed some of these surface molecules of human blood vessels on hamster cells.

Brain tissue preparation of a patient who died from cerebral malaria. Neural tissues appear white, red blood cells red, and brown is the colour of the product of haemoglobin after intake and digestion by malaria parasites, the so-called malaria pigment.
Brain tissue preparation of a patient who died from cerebral malaria. Neural tissues appear white, red blood cells red, and brown is the colour of the product of haemoglobin after intake and digestion by malaria parasites, the so-called malaria pigment.

By repeated cycles of allowing infected red blood cells in the test tube to attach to one of the surface molecules, we have enriched for P. falciparum strains expressing the respective binding partner. Thereby, we have characterized several P. falciparum molecules that specifically bind to a given surface molecule on human blood vessels. We hope that a cocktail of such binding molecules may in the future be used to develop vaccines stimulating the production of antibodies that inhibit the attachment of infected red blood cells in certain organs, thereby preventing or treating distinct organ failures in human malaria.


Metwally N.G. et al., Sci Rep 2017, 7:4069

Nahla Metwally, Ann-Kathrin Tilly, Pedro Lubiana, Lisa Roth, Michael Dörpinghaus, Stephan Lorenzen, Kathrin Schuldt, Susanne Witt, Anna Bachmann, Egbert Tannich, Iris Bruchhaus and external cooperation partners (see publication).