THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Researchers find new methods to eliminate malaria parasite

New methods to eliminate malaria parasite | Courtesy of wikipedia.org
Scientists from the Toxicology Unit of the Medical Research Council (MRC) at the University of Leicester and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine recently discovered a new method to eliminate malaria parasites.

"This is a real breakthrough in our understanding of how malaria survives in the blood stream and invades red blood cells,” Andrew Tobin, from the MRC Toxicology Unit at the University of Leicester, said. “We've revealed a process that allows this to happen and if it can be targeted by drugs, we could see something that stops malaria in its tracks without causing toxic side effects."

Malaria parasites live in its host’s blood steam, making this an important discovery for new methods of treating the disease. A crucial protein, called protein kinase, can be targeted to stop the illness. Identifying the importance of this protein helps scientists to effectively kill the parasite.

"It is a great advantage in drug discovery research if you know the identity of the molecular target of a particular drug and the consequences of blocking its function,” the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's David Baker said. “It helps in designing the most effective combination treatments and also helps to avoid drug resistance which is a major problem in the control of malaria worldwide."

This discovery may be the beginning to creating a novel drug for malaria treatments.

"Tackling malaria is a global challenge, with the parasite continually working to find ways to survive our drug treatments,” Patrick Maxwell, chair of the MRC's Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board, said. “By combining a number of techniques to piece together how the malaria parasite survives, this study opens the door on potential new treatments that could find and exploit the disease's weak spots but with limited side effects for patients."

Further details are available in Nature Communications.

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