Help for pregnant women to fight malaria

Health Watch

SIX antibody properties may help scientists identify which pregnant women are at risk of placental malaria infection.
Malaria infections can have a devastating impact on pregnant mothers, especially during the first pregnancy.
Plasmodium invading the placenta can cause the baby to become undernourished.
Low birth weight, premature birth, stillbirth and miscarriage.
A protein made by malaria parasites called VAR2CSA allows them to attach to placental cells and invade the placenta.
“Many women produce antibodies that can prevent this infection,” said University of Melbourne Doherty Institute’s Dr Elizabeth Eightken.
“Even those who suffer from placental malaria during their first pregnancy are less likely to get infected during subsequent pregnancies because they have developed protective antibodies.
“We set out to characterise these antibodies that help protect women from placental infections.”
In their experiments, the team used techniques to characterise naturally acquired antibodies during mid-pregnancy related to protection from placental malaria during childbirth.
They analysed the 169 antibody characteristics of 77 pregnant women from Madang.
Of these, they identified six associated with placental malaria protection which fall into two major groups: those associated with preventing parasites from binding to placental cells and those that lead to the destruction of infected blood cells.
“Using these, we created a model that could predict which pregnant women would develop placental malaria infection with 86 per cent accuracy,” said co-lead author Dr Timon Damerang.
“These results suggest that there are likely to be multiple pathways for protection from placental malaria,” said co-lead author Dr Amaya Ortga-Pajares. – Florida News Times