February 18, 2019
A comprehensive study led by Prof. James Beeson and Dr Linda Reiling, recently published in Nature Communications, has identified key targets of the protective immune response to malaria in Papua New Guinean children. The study found that antibodies that recruit complement to the parasite surface were more strongly associated with protection than antibody activity in standard growth inhibition assays. The complement system is a component of the immune system that facilitates the clearance of pathogens from the body by promoting inflammation and attacking the pathogen’s plasma membrane.
Importantly, the team were able to rank malaria antigens according to their importance to immunity and identified several antigens with complement-fixing antibodies that were strongly associated with protection from malaria. This information will inform the development of new and potentially highly effective malaria vaccines.