Researchers developed a drug compound that effectively blocks a critical step in the malaria health cycle and working to develop the combination into a first-line of malaria treatment
While drugs and mosquito controls have decreased the levels of malaria infection over the recent years, the parasite still kills approximately 400,000 humans per annum since 2010, and infecting many more. Unfortunately, it has now developed tolerance to several anti-malarial drugs. Hence, new treatments that can impact in many ways are needed. According to research, published in PNAS (Proceedings of The National Academy of Science), Blackma, and Chrislaine Withers-Martinez developed a couple of compounds to avoid the parasite capable of bursting out of RBC (red blood cells), an important process to its replication and life cycle. The scientists found a compound which is peptidic boronic acid, in particular, that is highly effective in human cell tests. This peptidic boronic acid blocks an enzyme called SUB1, an essential enzyme for malaria to break out of red blood cells. Existing anti-malaria drugs work by killing parasites inside the cell, so researchers hope that this unique drug action will overcome resistance to the insect. Most importantly, the compound can pass through the RBC (red blood cells) of malaria infected cells that host the parasites. The team continues to improve this combination, making it thinner and stronger. The cells will be tested further and go through animal trials to access safety and efficacy, before it is available to humans.
Decades of research have helped scientists to know and understand crucial pathways to the parasite life cycle allowing them to rationally innovate drug compounds based on the chemical properties and mechanism of crucial enzymes such as SUB1. This development has already been successful at finding new treatments that could be a way to long-term and efficient control of malaria soon.