Malaria infection begins when a mosquito injects the Plasmodium parasite into the blood.
But getting sick is not a certain outcome.
"The vast majority of people really only develop either mild malaria or even asymptomatic infections."
Nathan Schmidt, a cellular immunologist at the University of Louisville.
"It's a very small subset of the hundreds of millions of cases that progress to severe malaria."
Some of the variation in illness severity is genetic.
Or whether the patient is partially immune, thanks to past exposures.
But Schmidt and his colleagues have found another factor that could influence the disease: the host's microbiome.
The first clue came during an experiment in lab mice:even though the mice were almost identical genetically, mice that had been bought from different vendors showed variability in their response to infection by the malaria parasite.
Turns out, the mice had different microbiomes.
So the researchers did more tests—they transplanted the gut bugs of both the resistant and the susceptible animals into other mice that had no gut bacteria.
And again, mice that now had the resistant microbial mix were spared the worst of a malaria infection—possibly through some sort of booster effect on their immune system thanks to the microbes.
The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
As for optimizing our microbiomes?
"I think that we're pretty far away from this having any kind of real therapeutic potential for humans."
Yogurt alone, for example, did not much help the mice.
But if and when we do find the right recipe for the anti-malarial microbiome, the researchers say, it could lessen the parasite's effects.
And perhaps save thousands of lives.
这项研究已在《美国国家科学院院刊 》上发表 。
1.thanks to 幸亏，多亏，由于
例句:Scottish step-dancing survived thanks to Highland emigrants to Cape Breton, Canada, who maintained the tradition, and now step-dancing is becoming increasingly popular again in Scotland.
幸亏从高地移民到加拿大Cape Breton的人们保留了这种传统，踢踏舞得以幸存 。目前，踢踏舞逐渐在苏格兰复兴起来 。
2.turn out 生产;结果;产生
例句:Some of Davis's tips are banal to say the least: If you are working from home, turn off the TV stands out.
戴维斯的一些诀窍至少可以说是平淡乏味的 。如果你在家中工作，关掉电视就是突出的一例 。
3.even though 哪怕;即使
例句:Thomas D. Gorman: and recruiting people that have the right character traits even though they might lack the specialized knowledge.
4.in response to 回应;响应
例句:He chuckled in response to her question.