The route all routes of the most deadly malaria parasite use to go through red blood cells has been identified by researchers at the Sanger Institute in Cambridge. The scientists involved said the finding offered "great hope" for the development of a vaccine, which had the potential to be hugely effective.
Other experts said they were surprised and impressed. Malaria affects 300 million people each year. One million die, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa.
There are many malaria parasites. Plasmodium falciparum is the most deadly and researchers at the Sanger Institute acknowledge it as a "very complex and cunning foe".
It is exceptionally good at evading and bamboozling the immune system. Within five minutes of being bitten by a malaria-carrying mosquito, the parasite is already hiding inside the liver.
It then emerges from the liver at a different stage in its life cycle and infects red blood cells, where it starts reproducing.