The malaria parasite multiplies in red blood cells, safe from our immune defences
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.
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.
TOM CLARKE | © Nature News Service
Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit
21.08.2017 | Hokkaido University
New malaria analysis method reveals disease severity in minutes
14.08.2017 | University of British Columbia
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,...
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...
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...
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...
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...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences