A new antimalarial target has been identified that could revolutionise future therapies. Malaria is caused by parasites – here shown in green infecting a red blood cell – transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Every year almost half the world’s population are at risk. In 2012, 90% of malaria deaths occurred in Africa, resulting in nearly half a million children dying before their fifth birthday. As drug-resistant parasites emerge scientists are forced to search for alternative methods of treatment. Now new chemical compounds – called pyrazoleamides – have been shown to disrupt the parasites’ ability to sustain suitable levels of sodium, making them very ’thirsty’. This leads to extreme water intake and the parasite bursts. These compounds act in a novel way that’s not been previously exploited in other antimalarial drugs. They could also be capable of halting parasite multiplication and spread by mosquitoes – promise tantamount to fulfilling the malaria elimination programme.
Written by Rebekah Kells
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