Sidney Altman and Choukri Ben Mamoun created the compound, which penetrates red blood cells and targets the ability of parasites to grow within cells. The work is an extension of a discovery by another Yale professor, Alfred L. M. Bothwell, who developed a basic peptide to penetrate cell membranes and walls, Science Daily reports.
Altman and colleagues added a piece of RNA to the peptide that attaches to messenger RNA produced by malaria parasites. The complex activates a particular molecular response that shuts the parasite down.
“While we primarily looked at one species of parasite, it is clear the compound also knocks out drug-resistant strains of malaria as well,” Altman said, according to Science Daily. “This compound can wipe out strains that are currently resistant to drugs such as chloroquine and pyrimethamine.”
The compound has been shown to kill dangerous bacteria strains as well. The team is looking into the ability of the compound to fight skin wound infections. Altman said that more tests would need to be conducted to ensure the compound works in animals and people as well as it does in the lab.