FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Australian researchers find potential new ways to combat malaria

Researchers from Australian National University (ANU) said recently that they discovered a slew of new chemicals with anti-malarial properties that may open the door to develop new drugs to fight the disease.

Details of their findings were documented for the third time in the publication "PNAS." 

"The series of papers shows that the malaria parasite has a real Achilles heel and describe a range of new ways to attack it," Kiaran Kirk, dean of the College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, said. "It's very early days, but these pump-blocking compounds have some of the most promising anti-malarial potential we've seen. This is a good example of a long-term, international drug development program in which Australian groups have played a key role.”

More than 200 million people globally suffer from malaria each year. The parasite that causes malaria has become resistant to many available drugs.

"The new molecules block a molecular salt pump at the surface of the parasite, causing it to fill up with salt," ANU researcher Natalie Spillman said. "This has the effect of drawing water into the parasite, causing it to swell uncontrollably and burst.

Scientists from Griffith University, Monash University and the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin also participated in the research. 

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