Team co-led by Indian scientists solves 100-year-old mystery of how malaria affects brain

PTI, Dec 17, 2020, 9:36 AM IST


New Delhi: Using brain imaging techniques, scientists, including those from The Center for the Study of Complex Malaria in Odisha, have unravelled the century-old mystery of how malaria affects the brain, an advance which reveals how the deadly disease causes different outcomes in adults and children.

According to the researchers, cerebral malaria is a severe, life-threatening complication of infection with the Plasmodium falciparum parasite that can infect humans through the bite of Anopheles mosquitoes.

While a fifth of people with this form of the disease die despite treatment, and neurocognitive after-effects are common in survivors, they said the effects of malaria on the brain have puzzled scientists for the last 100 years.

The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases on Wednesday, used cutting-edge MRI scans to compare the changes in the brains of survivors with those who died from the disease across different age-groups.

“For years, scientists have relied on autopsies to understand the pathology of cerebral malaria, but these don’t allow you to compare between survivors and fatalities,” said Sam Wassmer, a co-lead author of the study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in the UK.

“By using neuroimaging techniques to see a snapshot of the living brain, we were able to identify the specific cause of death in adults,” Wassner said.

In the study, the scientists assessed 65 patients with cerebral malaria and 26 control patients with ”uncomplicated” malaria, who were being treated at Ispat General Hospital in Rourkela.

They found that brain swelling tends to decrease with the age of the patient, and that, unlike in children, there was no correlation between brain swelling and death in adult patients from the same cohort.

Instead, the researchers said fatal adult cases had severe oxygen deprivation affecting all brain structures, compared to only localised oxygen-deprivation in survivors.

They said the findings were corroborated by significantly elevated levels of specific molecules in the blood which indicate oxygen-deprivation.

Based on the results, the researchers believe a system could be developed for the identification of patients at risk of developing fatal disease upon admission that could inform their clinical management.

“The results suggest the tantalising prospect of targeted treatments for cerebral malaria, and we are now planning clinical trials to test whether adjunctive therapies for oxygen-deprivation are effective for adults,” said Sanjib Mohanty, study co-lead from the Centre for the Study of Complex Malaria.

“If successful, this could be a significant step toward reducing the death toll of one of the world’s most deadly diseases,” he added.

Udayavani is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest news.

Top News

BRS has no plans to contest K’taka Assembly polls: Kumaraswamy

Karnataka govt to open ‘Namma Clinics’ in the state

Hindi trailer of Rishab Shetty-starrer ‘Kantara’ ready for release on Oct 9

India’s heaviest rocket to make global foray on October 22

SA score 249 for 4 against India in rain-curtailed first ODI

BJP to hold mega events, tour programmes of key party leaders ahead of elections in Karnataka

‘Even my wife doesn’t scold me as much as LG sahib’: Kejriwal asks Saxena to ‘chill a bit’

Related Articles More

Compound in some mouthwashes may suppress COVID-19, study finds

BA.2 variant in around 90% Covid samples genome-sequenced in Delhi in July-Aug

WHO alert for four Indian syrups as 66 children die in Gambia

Five things to do in your 20s and 30s to reduce your risk of preventable cancer

Labcorp Drug Development selects Dr. Deepa Desai as Country head for India


Running Reace with Rahul Gandi and Siddaramiah

Uchila Dasara 2022 : Final Preparation for Precession

Bharath Judo : Rahul Gandhi Speach in Rain

Day 8 | Mahagauri

Sarapady Devadas Special Video.

Latest Additions

UNHRC adopts resolution against Sri Lanka’s rights record; India abstains from voting

Foreign vessel with drugs seized off Kochi coast

BRS has no plans to contest K’taka Assembly polls: Kumaraswamy

Karnataka govt to open ‘Namma Clinics’ in the state

Gold worth Rs 38.53 Lakhs seized from passenger at MIA

Thanks for visiting Udayavani

You seem to have an Ad Blocker on.
To continue reading, please turn it off or whitelist Udayavani.