Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Potential malaria drug target identified

25.11.2005


Researchers have identified an enzyme crucial to the malaria parasite’s invasion of red blood cells, according to a study in the open-access journal, PLoS Pathogens.



"The most exciting practical implication of this work is that it identifies a potential drug target that is quite different from anything that is targeted by existing antimalarial drugs," Blackman says. "This is very important, since it is widely agreed that the best way to prevent the appearance of drug resistance in any pathogen is to use combinations of drugs that target distinct biochemical pathways."

The most severe form of malaria, a disease that affects over 300 million people annually, is caused by the single-celled parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which was the focus of the study.


A number of different proteins on the surface of malaria parasites help the invaders bind to red blood cells. But once attached to host blood cells, the parasites need to shed the "sticky" surface proteins that would otherwise interfere with entrance into the cell.

"What we have discovered is the parasite enzyme -we refer to it as a ’sheddase’- which sheds the sticky proteins," says Michael Blackman, senior author of the study and parasitologist at London’s National Institute for Medical Research. The enzyme, called PfSUB2, is required for the parasites to invade cells; without it, the parasites die.

The results also shed light on the fundamental mechanisms malaria parasites use to infect cells. "The malaria parasite is related to several other major pathogens, all of which invade cells in a similar manner, so work such as this can have wide-ranging implications," according to Blackman.

Blackman’s team has worked on malarial surface proteins for over 15 years. "We predicted that this enzyme must have the capacity to ’move’ across the surface of the parasite, since the proteins that are shed are themselves distributed all over the parasite surface," he says.

A major challenge in the study was to visualize that motion. "To overcome this, we genetically modified the parasite by ’tagging’ PfSUB2 so that we could visually follow its movement within the parasite. It was only by doing this that we were able to see that PfSUB2 is secreted onto and across the parasite surface," he says.

The enzyme is stored in and released from cellular compartments near the tip of the parasite, according to the study. Once on the surface, the enzyme attaches to a motor that shuttles it from front to back, liberating the sticky surface proteins. With these proteins removed, the parasite gains entrance into a red blood cell. The entire invasion lasts about 30 seconds.

By designing a specific inhibitor that impeded the ability to shed the sticky proteins, Blackman and his team interfered with the enzyme’s normal functioning. A drug--yet to be designed--could possibly do the same, preventing the parasites from infecting blood cells.

Tim Sullivan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plos.org
http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.0010029

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>