Paris & Strasbourg (France) researchers have discovered an ‘Achilles Heel’ for malaria: A specific molecule the parasite needs from the host. Could this spawn a new generation of Parasitic disease drugs?
Malaria is a parasitic disease that was responsible for over 400,000 deaths worldwide just in 2015, according to the WHO – especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
However, the current trend is actually a reduced number of cases worldwide (as well as related deaths), due to medical advances such as the Nobel-awarded discovery of artemisinin.
Better control of mosquito populations (Anopheles spp.) that spread the parasite are also driving this improvement (a strategy that could be helped by innovative approaches to pest control).
But research into parasitic diseases is still producing new insights into the mechanisms of infection.
This time, researchers from the University of Strasbourg and the Pasteur Institute in Paris have published in PNAS a description of how the parasite that causes malaria (Plasmodium) imports a specific molecule from its host (humans) to its own cytoplasm.