- To combat malaria, the traditional way has been to give medicines after the patient catches the disease. Now, researchers are exploring a new pathway — killing parasites in the liver, before the illness emerges.
- Scientists spent two years extracting malaria parasites from hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes and then testing more than 500,000 chemical compounds for their ability to shut down the malaria parasite at the liver stage. After further testing, they narrowed the list to 631 promising compounds that could form the basis for new malaria prevention drugs.
- The researchers made the findings open source so that the data can be freely shared with the scientific community.
- Most malaria cases are caused by the mosquito-borne parasites Plasmodium falciparum or Plasmodium vivax.
- For safety’s sake, Winzeler and team used a related parasite called Plasmodium berghei in the study, which can only infect mice. The team will next take a closer look at the 631 promising drug candidates to determine how many work against the liver stage of the Plasmodium species that affect humans.
- Winzeler and members of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Malaria Drug Accelerator are collaborating to unravel the mechanism by which many of the compounds work against the malaria parasite.
- The ideal new drug would also be affordable and practical for administration in parts of the world without refrigeration or an abundance of health care providers, the university statement said.
- According to the World Health Organization, malaria cases are on the rise, particularly in 13 countries. There were 219 million cases of malaria in 2017, compared to 217 million the previous year. In 2017, approximately 4.35 lakh people died of malaria.