Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New anti-malaria drug

15.02.2002


The malaria parasite multiplies in red blood cells, safe from our immune defences
© SPL


Monkey tests hint compound could paralyse malaria parasite in humans.

A new-found chemical can root out malaria parasites hiding in red blood cells and stop them reproducing. It may become a much-needed new weapon in the war against one of the world’s biggest killers.

The compound clears monkeys of infection with the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum at doses far lower than existing antimalarial drugs. But testing in humans is a few years away at least, says Henri Vial at Montpellier University in France who discovered the 1.



Developing new antimalarials is essential: malaria kills more than one million people each year, and the parasites are becoming resistant to existing drugs.

Malaria parasites enter our blood when the mosquitoes that carry them bite us. The parasites multiply inside red blood cells, safe from the body’s immune system.

Vial’s team developed a range of compounds that interfere with the building of cell membranes. Rapidly reproducing parasites are constantly making new cell membranes.

They used infected human blood samples to screen all their chemicals for antimalarial activity. A compound with the working name G25 came out on top.

"We were very lucky," says Vial: G25 only enters red-blood cells that harbour reproducing malaria parasites. Why is a mystery, and "the focus of our research now", Vial says.

This selectivity is important for two reasons. First, because all animal cells make membranes, G25 would be highly toxic if it were less discerning. More importantly, scientists could exploit the chemical’s nose for malaria-infected cells to deliver other antimalarial compounds. "It is a natural targeting mechanism," Vial says.

"No other group of drugs works like this," says Peter Winstanley, who is developing new antimalarial drugs at the University of Liverpool in England. As a result, he hopes G25 could kill even drug-resistant malaria.

But because G25 acts on a fundamental biological system there could be harmful side-effects. Vial’s team saw nothing untoward in monkeys, but admits more work on the safety of the compound is needed.

Another big hurdle is getting the compound into pill form. Currently it has to be injected. "We do have problems with oral absorption," says Vial. Chemical tweaking of G25 should help.

Scientific obstacles aside, new malaria drugs face an uphill economic struggle, cautions Winstanley. To save the most lives, malaria drugs must be affordable for developing countries where the disease is endemic. Keeping development costs low enough to achieve this is hard.

The newest antimalarial drug on the market costs $57 for a course of treatment. For the developing world "it would need to cost a lot less than 50 cents", Winstanley says.

References

  1. Wengelnik, K. et al. A class of potent antimalarials and their specific accumulation on infected erythrocytes. Science, 295, 1311 - 1314, (2002).

TOM CLARKE | © Nature News Service
Further information:
http://www.nature.com/nsu/020211/020211-11.html

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties
23.02.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>