Killing the malaria parasite by blocking its recycling system

An international collaboration has developed a new drug candidate that stops the malaria parasite from breaking down waste, resulting in fatal ‘molecular constipation’ and hope for new treatments.

Diseases caused by infectious organisms pose an enormous threat to global health, food security and sustainable development, and malaria is one of the worst of these diseases, causing more than 400,000 deaths each year.

Sadly, delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to impede efforts to treat and prevent malaria. Even more alarmingly, current antimalarial treatments are rapidly losing their effectiveness as the different malaria parasites develop resistance.

malaria vaccine has been approved recently but shows only about 30 per cent effectiveness against severe disease and urgently needs to be augmented with new treatments with new modes of action.

Professor Leann Tilley and colleagues from the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology at the University of Melbourne, have co-led a large international effort to develop a new type of drug that is specific for the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which along with the Plasmodium vivax malaria parasite poses the greatest threat to humans.

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