Malaria is a major global problem, causing suffering and death for millions. The parasite Plasmodium vivax causes around half of all cases, infecting up to 390 million people around the world every year. Researchers are trying a new approach in the fight – a nanoparticle loaded with vaccine that triggers the immune system to attack the parasite. In tests in mice, the tiny nano-vaccine particles (coloured blue in this fluorescence microscope image) are seen travelling into the lymph nodes (dyed red) – the 'factories' where the immune response is generated. The nano-vaccine activates specialised immune cells (fluorescing green) to pump out antibodies which lock on to the malaria parasite and help to destroy it. Although it's still at an early stage, an effective vaccine could make a big difference to children and adults around the world living in areas where malaria is rife.
Written by Kat Arney
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