Australian researchers find new drug to tackle malaria

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malaria1Kevin Saliba along with his team of Australian National University said that a new drug that stops the malaria parasite to multiply is now plausible. Their findings have been reported in recent issue of Nature Communications, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Just like humans, malaria parasites need vitamin B1(Thiamine) to grow and multiply. Thiamine is converted in cells to a cofactor, which then binds a number of enzymes involved in energy production. It is needed to inhibit this thiamine metabolism pathway.

“We can target the pathways by which the parasite takes up the vitamin and metabolises it. These pathways can serve as drug targets,” Saliba said.

A major problem with anti-malarial drugs is the development of resistance. “The malaria parasite has become resistant to just all the drugs we’ve used against it,” Saliba added.

As a ‘probe drug’ an analogue of thiamine was used, which looks similar to the vitamin but cannot actually be used in energy production.

The thiamine analogue used here would interfere with energy metabolism in humans so any anti-malarial drug based on these findings would have to be designed very carefully, he added.

According to the World Health Organisation, about 3.3 billion people, almost half of the world’s population are at risk of malaria.

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