Breakthrough research has revealed a new drug that may prevent the spread of malaria, and also treat people suffering with the deadly parasitic disease.
The findings, which were delivered by an international team of scientists led by the University of Glasgow and published today in Science, offer fresh hope in the global fight against malaria.
Malaria, a mosquito-borne infectious disease, currently affects over 200 million people, and kills nearly half a million people—mostly children—every year.
Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which infects humans through the bite of a mosquito. The parasite then grows in the liver and in red blood cells in our blood. Parasites can also change in the blood to take on a male and female form, which can re-infect mosquitoes when they bite and suck blood from infected people.
Now, scientists led by Professor Andrew Tobin of the University of Glasgow, have discovered a drug that can kill the parasite at all three stages of its life cycle—when it is in the liver, in red blood cells, as well as preventing sexual development of the parasite.
The new drug works by stopping the activity of an essential protein called PfCLK3, which controls the production/activity of other proteins that are involved in keeping the parasite alive. By blocking this protein’s activity, the drugs can effectively kill the malaria parasite, which not only prevents it spreading, but also holds the possibility of treating the disease in humans too.
Read more: Medical Xpress