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Publications of the Week

Liver Stage Malaria Infection Is Controlled by Host Regulators of Lipid Peroxidation

By May 24, 2019No Comments

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This week we profile a recent publication in Cell Death & Differentiation from the laboratory of
Dr. Alexis Kaushansky at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

What is your lab’s current research focus?

The Kaushansky Lab focuses on the interactions between pathogens and the humans they infect. A substantial part of the lab focuses on the malaria parasite (Plasmodium) and its human “host” as well as the development of host-targeted drugs and other therapeutics. One of the major topics of our work is how the malaria parasite selects, invades and manipulates the host cell(s) within the liver. Additional projects in the lab focus on other parasites, bacteria, and viruses to compare how different pathogens interact with their host cells. We are part of an interdisciplinary team at the Center for Global Infectious Disease Research within Seattle Children’s Research Institute that aims to understand and cure pediatric infectious disease around the world.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

One of the interests of our lab is how the malaria parasite is regulated in the liver. Some conventional immune responses have been shown to be partially effective against the malaria parasite, but some malaria parasites are still able to develop and go on to cause disease and death. Boosting our natural ability to fight the malaria parasite while it is still in the liver could eliminate the symptoms of the disease, and subsequent transmission. In our recent publication, “Liver stage malaria infection is controlled by host regulators of lipid peroxidation,” published in Cell Death and Differentiation, we identify a role for a noncanonical signaling pathway in the regulation of liver stage infection. This signaling pathway leads to the production of reactive oxygen species and alters the fat molecules within the infected cell. We are hopeful that this new insight will lead to novel tools and therapies to eliminate malaria parasites in the liver, before they go on to cause disease.

What are the next steps for this research?

This research strengthens the case for a major role for non-canonical immune pathways in the regulation of infection. It helps broadens the definition of what kind of host response can serve to eliminate infection, and how this host response might be targeted to eliminate disease. How applicable this pathway is for fighting infections outside of malaria remains to be explored. A more in-depth understanding of how this form of immunity fights infection could lead to the development of drugs or vaccines that boost our body’s ability to fight multiple types of infections.

This research was funded by:

This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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