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 Indications of Psychosis Appear in Cortical Folding
26.04.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
20.04.2018 | Michigan Technological University

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: Why we need erasable MRI scans

New technology could allow an MRI contrast agent to 'blink off,' helping doctors diagnose disease

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a widely used medical tool for taking pictures of the insides of our body. One way to make MRI scans easier to read is...

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

World's smallest optical implantable biodevice

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Molecular evolution: How the building blocks of life may form in space

26.04.2018 | Life Sciences

First Li-Fi-product with technology from Fraunhofer HHI launched in Japan

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>