- The Loom
Malaria For Brains
The red blob in this picture is a human red blood cell, and the green blob in the middle of it is a pack of the malaria-causing parasites Plasmodium falciparum. Other species of the single-celled Plasmodium can give you malaria, but if you’re looking for a real knock-down punch, P. falciparum is the parasite for you. It alone is responsible for almost all of the million-plus deaths due to malaria.
How did this scourge come to plague us? In a paper to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists have reconstructed a series of molecular events three million years ago that allowed Plasmodium falciparum to make us its host. They argue that