Parasitic infection can be terrifying; the thought of another organism eating you from within conjures the chest-busting scenes from the Alien series.
Most malaria deaths, an estimated 655,000 annually, result from the parasite Plasmodium falciparumi, a protozoan. Scientists don’t fully understand how the immune system fights the parasite, so designing a vaccines and treatment has proven difficult.
Recently scientists described a strategy for combating parasites. The key are platelets, pinched off pieces of megakaryocytes. Platelets are known to be involved in preventing hemorrhage and stopping bleeding. Scientists note:
PF4 is released by platelets on contact with parasitized red cells, and the protein directly kills intraerythrocytic parasites. This function for PF4 is critically dependent on Fy, which binds PF4. Genetic disruption of Fy expression inhibits binding of PF4 to parasitized cells and concomitantly prevents parasite killing by both human platelets and recombinant human PF4.
Platelets bind to parasitized cells and kill the parasites within.
Source (featured image)