when the malaria parasite multiplies, each of the replica may contain a different protein signature to prevent the immune system from wiping out all the them. This is tantamount to an insurance policy taken out by the parasite. The consequence would be an increased capacity for invasiveness and a continuing ability to maintain an infection for a long period, while the immune system keeps battling against one or the other variant separately. These are the findings of scientists at the National Institute of Medical Research in London, uk ( Nature , Vol 398, p618-622).
Malaria is caused by parasites of the group Plasmodium , which multiply in the blood of an infected animal. In the first step of infection, the parasite, known as merozoite, gets into the red blood cell of the host. The merozoite then changes shape, acquiring a ring-like appearance, and is known as tropozoite. Each tropozoite undergoes maturation within the red blood cell to give rise to what is called a schizont, which divides repeatedly to create 6 to 32 merozoites through a phenomenon called schizogony. The merozoites look for a new cell, and the cycle goes on.
The schizont reproduces asexually, meaning that all 32 merozoites are expected to be genetically identical. To facilitate a successful invasion, merozoites have complex organs at their tips called rhoptries