Thursday 9 July 2015

Malaria Breakthrough

A scientific breakthrough could pave the way for new treatments for malaria, scientists said Tuesday.
Researchers have discovered new ways in which the malaria parasite survives in the blood stream of its victims.

They say their discovery could result in new treatments being developed to eradicate the disease.
The researchers at the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Toxicology Unit, based at Leicester University and the London School of Hygiene and
Tropical Medicine, have identified a key protein – called a kinase – that if targeted stops the disease.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.
Malaria is caused by a parasite that lives inside an infected mosquito and is transferred into humans through a bite.
Once inside the body, parasites use a complex process to enter red blood cells and survive within them.
By identifying one of the key proteins needed for the parasite to survive in the red blood cells, the researchers prevented the protein from working, killing the parasite.
The researchers used state-of-the-art methods to dissect the pathways involved in keeping the malaria parasite alive.
They found that one protein kinase, PfPKG, plays a central role in various pathways that allow the parasite to survive in the blood.
They explained that understanding the pathways the parasite uses means that future drugs could be precisely designed to kill the parasite.
This could be done with limited toxicity, making them safe enough to be used by children and pregnant women.
Study co-lead author Professor Andrew Tobin, from the MRC Toxicology Unit at Leicester University, said: “This is a real breakthrough in our understanding of how malaria survives in the blood stream and invades red blood cells.”
“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 currently infects more than 200 million people worldwide and accounts for more than 500,000 deaths per year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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