Chemotherapy drug can kill malaria parasite

Scientists have discovered that a new class of chemotherapy drugs is also effective at killing the parasite that causes malaria.

The drugs, designed to block signaling pathways in cancer cells, may open a new avenue in combating the deadly tropical disease, according to

The new research demonstrates that the malaria parasite relies on a signaling pathway that is present in its host in order to proliferate. The pathways are originally in the liver cells but then transfer to red blood cells.

The enzymes present in the signaling pathways are not encoded by the parasite, but, instead, are hijacked to serve the parasite’s purposes, reports.

These pathways are targeted by a new class of molecules called kinase inhibitors that were developed for use in chemotherapy patients, according to a report in the journal Cellular Microbiology.

Experts from the Global Health Institute and Inserm, the French agency for biomedical research, applied the chemotherapy drug to the infected red blood cells and the malaria was halted.

When the pathway was successfully disabled, the parasite was unable to proliferate and then died, reports. In the laboratory, the scientists found that the chemotherapy drug was able to kill a rodent version of malaria in both liver and red blood cells.

The research indicates that hijacking the host’s signaling pathway is a generalized strategy utilized by malaria, and, therefore, disabling it would likely be a way to combat a variety of strains known to infect humans.

Malaria is thought to infect 250 million people, killing between one to three million every year worldwide.