Key findings could lead to new treatments for malaria

Mosquito on hand
Malaria is spread by the bite of a blood-sucking mosquito. Parasites in the mosquito’s saliva slip into a person’s bloodstream and destroy red blood cells.

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.

Read more in the Source.