Sebastian Nasamu, an MD/PhD student at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, battled successive bouts of malaria as a child growing up in Ghana. He survived – and has committed himself to eradicating the disease.
Now Nasamu, Daniel Goldberg, MD, PhD, and colleagues have identified two crucial enzymes in the malarial parasite’s arsenal: One helps the microbe invade red blood cells; the other aids the parasite’s in escaping a cell in order to move on and infect other cells.
Further, the researchers showed that a drug that cures malaria in mice works against one of these enzymes. The findings suggest that targeting such enzymes could lead to new kinds of anti-malarial drugs. These are urgently needed because resistance to current drugs is growing and spreading.
An estimated 212 million people contracted malaria in 2015, and more than 400,000 – mostly children under age 5 – died of it.