According to a new study, the platelets found in the blood can kill up to 60 per cent of the malaria parasites circulating in the bloodstream.
The study found that platelets bind to kill parasites in patients infected with each of the major malaria parasite species which infect and kill humans -- Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae and P. knowlesi.
The Study: Key Highlights
• The study involved 376 people, with and without malaria, from Papua, Indonesia and Sabah, Malaysia.
• It found that the platelets can kill around 20 per cent of circulating Plasmodium parasites in clinical malaria and around 60 per cent of parasites in P. vivax.
• The process of killing the parasites was found to be triggered by a toxic platelet peptide called PF4.
• The study revealed that the platelets bind to the human red cells, containing the malaria parasites and kill the parasites by releasing into the red cell PF4.
• The study was published in the journal titled –Blood.
The finding is significant, as it suggests that PF4-based peptides could be potential candidates for malaria treatment in the future.
It is also the first direct evidence of platelets acting as a defence against infectious human diseases.
The previous studies conducted on laboratory mice infected with malaria parasites showed conflicting results.
However, platelets did show activity in the test-tube in killing many other microbes that infect humans.
In fact, low platelets are known to be a risk for infection in other human diseases.
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