Scientists have developed a revolutionary tool to fight drug-resistant malaria

Malaria is a febrile illness caused by Plasmodium parasites that are transmitted to humans through mosquito bites from infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

As the efficiency of conventional antimalarial drugs deteriorates, a new approach to fighting malaria, where the disease turns against itself, could provide a viable therapy for the hundreds of millions of people affected worldwide each year.

The study discovered ML901, an antimalarial chemical that suppresses the malaria parasite without damaging the cells of humans or other mammals.

Self-destructing parasite by the new instrument

(Photo: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)

Professor Leann Tilley of the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute said the ML901 molecule essentially made the parasite the agent of its own destruction, explaining its potency and selectivity, as per ScienceDaily

Professor Tilley said ML901 works through an interesting response hijacking mechanism.

Consider a secret weapon that can be used to make your car self-destruct by hitting the brakes and killing the engine.

ML901 identifies a flaw in the malaria parasite’s mechanism for producing the proteins it needs to replicate itself and shuts it down.

Tests were conducted using molecules provided by Takeda Pharmaceuticals in conjunction with Medicines for Malaria Medicine, the top organization for antimalarial drug discovery and innovation facilities across five continents, where the chemical ML901 was found.

Once inside the parasite, ML901 hooked itself to an amino acid and the parasite attacked protein synthesis from within, bringing it to a halt.

Human cells are not vulnerable to ML901 due to their molecular structure.

ML901 destroyed malaria parasites resistant to the currently used drugs in experiments using both human blood cultures and an animal model of malaria.

It also showed rapid and sustained activity, resulting in good parasite kill.

Every year, at least 200 million new malaria infections are diagnosed worldwide, resulting in more than 600,000 deaths in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Antimalarial resistance has steadily increased over the past 50 years, pointing to an impending catastrophe in which breakthrough treatments are desperately needed.

Professor Tilley stated that the team was willing to explore the development of new antimalarial drugs based on such discoveries.

Also read: Scientists use geoengineering to lower global temperatures and fight the spread of malaria


According to the most recent World Malaria Report, there will be 241 million malaria cases in 2020, up from 227 million in 2019.

The number of fatalities from malaria is expected to reach 627,000 in 2020, an increase of 69,000 from the previous year.

While nearly two-thirds of these fatalities (47,000) were caused by disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the remaining one-third (22,000) were caused by a recent adjustment in WHO’s methodology for malaria deaths (regardless of COVID-19-related deaths). disturbances).

The new cause of death technique was tested in 32 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which are responsible for nearly 93% of all malaria deaths worldwide.

Since 2000, according to the approach, malaria has taken a significantly greater toll on African youth.

Early detection and treatment reduces malaria, prevents fatalities and helps minimize transmission.

All suspected cases of malaria should be verified using parasite-based diagnostic tests, according to the WHO via microscopy or a rapid diagnostic test.

Diagnostic tests allow doctors to quickly identify malaria and non-malarial fever, making treatment more effective.

Artemisinin-based combination therapy is the best current treatment, especially for P. falciparum malaria (ACT).

The fundamental goal of therapy is to quickly and completely eliminate Plasmodium parasites to prevent an uncomplicated case of malaria from escalating to serious illness or death.

Related article: Cone snail venom could be the cure for malaria, study shows

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