Chirality of Molecules to cheat the Malaria Parasite

  • Scientists are using chirality of molecules to cheat the malaria parasite from causing infection in humans.
  • An example from chemistry is the case of biomolecules, where chiral asymmetry offers a possibility for drug developers.
  • The constituents of proteins – the amino acids – have a chiral structure, which may in principle be right-handed or left-handed.
  • It so happens that all naturally occurring proteins are made up of L-amino acids.
  • This property is being made use of in Kalyaneswar Mandal’s lab in Hyderabad to develop a mirror image protein molecule which can be used to curb the progress of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum.
  • There are six types of parasite that can cause malaria; of these, P. falciparum causes a particularly virulent form of the disease, which can, in many cases, lead to fatality.
  • This parasite has a complex life cycle. One of the important steps is invasion of red blood cells by the parasite, and a crucial part of this is the formation of a junction between two proteins called the apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) and the Rhoptry neck protein (RON2).
  • Both AMA1 and the RON2 proteins are parasite proteins, AMA1-RON2 interaction is an ideal target for drug discovery.

Source: The Hindu

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