Study shows new drug effectively blocks malaria
Approximately 200 million malaria cases occur around the world every year, and approximately 500,000 people die from malaria. Many of these deaths are African children.
Malaria infects the body through a parasite known as Plasmodium falciparum (Pf). Even though the disease is treatable with antimalarial drugs, many times the drugs are harsh and the body develops resistance to them.
In 2011, scientists from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, located in the U.K., found that basigin, a human protein, is needed for Pf strains to invade red blood cells. This step is crucial to the life cycle of the parasite. Many antibodies treat malaria by blocking the parasite and protein interaction, and now the researchers have created a nontoxic antibasigin drug (Ab-1). This drug effectively treated the blood infection in mice.
The new study used mice as its test subjects. There were no obvious side effects to the treatments, which hints that it may be safe and effective for humans to use the drug.
Because basigin has also been suggested as being part of the progression of cancer and graft-versus-host disease for transplant patients, basigin-blocking drugs have already been shown to be safe and effective for humans. They are currently in clinical use.
Further details are available in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.