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
Custom-tailored strategy against glioblastomas
26.09.2016 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
New leukemia treatment offers hope
23.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.
Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.
“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...
With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...
For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.
Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...
At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.
In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...
23.09.2016 | Event News
20.09.2016 | Event News
16.09.2016 | Event News
27.09.2016 | Information Technology
27.09.2016 | Machine Engineering
27.09.2016 | Physics and Astronomy