A new twist in targeting malaria parasites

Muhammad Mahdi Karim (GFDL, http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) via Wikimedia Commons

Malaria is transmitted among humans by mosquitoes carrying sporozoite forms of protozoan Plasmodium species. The sporozoites reproduce abundantly in the liver of an infected person, creating tens of thousands of merozoites in a structure called a schizont, which later ruptures, releasing the parasites into the bloodstream. Some parasites develop into gametocytes that, when ingested by another mosquito, progress through the stages of ookinete and oocyst before maturing into sporozoites and completing the protozoan life cycle. Most antimalarial drugs currently in use are effective only against the blood stages of infection and are further beset by the emergence of resistant Plasmodium strains. To better address the prevention, treatment and eventual eradication of malaria, public health experts recommend the development of new antimalarial drugs that can target multiple life stages, that are active against drug-resistant Plasmodium strains and that are less likely to select for resistant mutations. The ideal medicines would also be suited to single-dose oral administration to help ensure treatment compliance and would have long half-lives to help prevent reinfection. It’s a tall order, to be sure. But an international group of biochemists recently reported a promising new candidate for malaria treatment called ELQ-300.

Lab Anim. (NY) 42, 153 (2013).
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