Plasmodium on the Move

Watching movies starring microorganisms can be a pretty good way to go about parasitology research. New York University parasitologists were quite intrigued recently when they reviewed decade-old time-lapse microscopy observations on video that chronicled the pre-infection movement of Plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria. It seemed as though the parasite might actually be moving in and out of target cells within seconds rather than settling down to produce a plethora of cell-invading progeny over several days. NYU scientists recently showed that the parasite does in fact have a habit of breaking and entering host cells (M.M. Mota et al., "Migration of Plasmodium sporozoites through cells before infection," Science, 291:141-4, Jan. 5, 2001). Although scientists had scratched their heads at this movement years before, no one had confirmed that the parasite was actually breaking out of cells and moving on to other targets. According to...

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