(Ivanhoe Newswire) —Last year it killed an estimated 655,000 people. Now researchers are developing new ways to block the transmission of Plasmodium, the parasite responsible for human malaria. Experts say the research could represent a new strategy for controlling the spread of infection.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 200 million people contract malaria each year. Experts say in order to combat the deadly disease, new tools have to be developed to prevent new infections. Wesley Van Voorhis at the University of Washington in Seattle and Oliver Billker at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, England assembled an international research team to do just that. The researchers have discovered a new class of malaria transmission-blocking compounds that work by inhibiting a protein called bumped kinase I.
The protein is required for Plasmodium to transition to sporozoites stage, the stage in its life cycle when it is infectious to mammals. In mosquitoes that fed on blood treated with the bumped kinase inhibitor, Plasmodium sporozoite formation was blocked. Preclinical data in mice also indicated that bumped kinase inhibitors are safe and well tolerated. Research results show that bumped kinase inhibitors target a new life cycle stage in Plasmodium. Researchers suggest that the compounds merit further development as a new therapy for malaria control.
Source: Journal of Clinical Investigation, May 2012