THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Study finds weakness in malaria life cycle, paves way for treatments

A recent study conducted by researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) and other institutions found a weak spot in the complex life cycle of malaria.

The researchers said that by examining the role of fat molecules in regards to how they interact with malaria in mosquitoes, the development of new treatments might be possible, ScienceDaily reports.

"Malaria parasites show resistance to all current anti-malarial drugs," Alexander Maier, an associate professor from ANU's Research School of Biology, said, according to ScienceDaily. "We are losing our weapons against this very important disease. But by studying lipid molecules -- fats -- rather than proteins or DNA we have opened a new avenue to develop drug treatments for malaria."

The researchers found that a particular molecule that transports fat within mosquitoes, known as gABCG2, played a key role in the advancement of malaria within the insects. They said that by targeting the molecule and killing females, which put on fat differently than males, the development and transmission of the disease could be stopped.

"It may even lead to a vaccine for malaria," Phuong Tran, a researcher on the study, said, ScienceDaily reports.

The research team said that advances in the study of fats within human cells made the discovery possible.