Target identification of a new, highly active potential anti-malarial drug

28 November 2013

BPRC - 1. Target identification of a new, highly active potential anti-malarial drug

New drugs are urgently needed in the fight against malaria because the parasite is becoming resistant against existing anti-malarials. For the development of new drugs, it is very important to identify its target, because it often reveals a parasitic Achilles heel.  Recently, a previously unknown weak spot has been identified in the malaria parasite.

The discovery of a weak spot of the malaria parasite is important, because it enables the design of drugs that are aimed specifically at the parasite. Moreover, possible drug-resistant parasites can be properly studied.

Researchers from around the world, including researchers from the BPRC have recently identified the target of an active anti-malarial drug that is currently being developed. This potential drug proved effective against all stages of the parasite. It was not only very active against the blood forms of the parasite, necessary to treat malaria symptoms, but in addition, the agent killed the parasite stages that are transmitted through the mosquito. Also, activity of the drug was found against early liver stages including hypnozoites: dormant stages that can remain in the liver for prolonged periods of time and can eventually, after ‘waking up’, cause disease. This activity could only be determined through the use of monkey models for malaria.

This important finding, published in the journal ‘Nature’, enables development of a highly targeted group of new anti-malarial compounds that are effective against all forms of the parasite.