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No Exit Route for Malaria Parasite:

  • Uncategorized
  • Jul 28, 2021

Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute and the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis have developed a drug-like compound that effectively blocks a critical step in the life cycle of the malaria parasite and are working to make this compound the first possible treatment for malaria. Medication and mosquito control have lowered malaria levels over the past few decades but the parasite still kills more than 4,00,000 people each year and infects many more. In their research published in PNAS, the scientists developed a series of compounds designed to prevent the parasite from leaving red blood cells which is a vital process for their replication and life cycle. The malaria parasites invade the red blood cells (RBCs) where they multiply before entering the bloodstream and then they repeat the process. Mike Blackman, lead author and group leader of the Malaria Biochemistry Laboratory at Crick, informed, this cycle leads to accumulation of infected RBCs which further causes fatal diseases.

If we can effectively trap malaria in the cell by blocking the parasite's exit route, we could stop the disease from spreading and stop its devastating cycle of invading cells. The compound works by blocking an enzyme called SUB1, which is an essential enzyme for a malaria outbreak. The researchers hope that this effect of the drug will overcome the resistance that the parasite has acquired. It is important that the connection can also penetrate the membranes of the red blood cells and the compartment within the cell in which the parasites are located. The team continues to optimize the compound, making it smaller and more powerful. If the optimization is successful then it will first be tested on animals to show it is safe. Only then, it will be made available to humans.

This approach, which has already found very successful new treatments for diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, could be the key to a sustainable and effective fight against malaria for many years to come.