New class of selective inhibitors paralyze essential plasmodium enzymes
The most dangerous variant of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, infects up to 600 million people every year. The search for new effective therapies is thus an urgent area of research. An international team headed by François Diederich has now found a new point of attack: using a novel class of inhibitors, the researchers aim to block certain plasmodium enzymes known as plasmepsins, “starving out” the malaria parasite.
Plasmepsins belong to the family of aspartic protease enzymes. They dismantle human hemoglobin to deliver the amino acids that plasmodia need in order to grow. In developing a new inhibitor, it is important to ensure that it blocks all of the plasmodium plasmepsins while remaining inactive toward human aspartic proteases.
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