Tuesday, March 26, 2019 | ePaper
Researchers explore new way of killing malaria in the liver
AFP, Washington :
In the ongoing hunt for more effective weapons against malaria, international researchers said Thursday they are exploring a pathway that has until now been little studied - killing parasites in the liver, before the illness emerges.
"It's very difficult to work on the liver stage," said Elizabeth Winzeler, professor of pharmacology and drug discovery at University of California San Diego School of Medicine.
"We have traditionally looked for medicines that will cure malaria," she told AFP.
For the latest research, published in the journal Science, scientists dissected hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes to remove parasites inside them.
Each parasite was then isolated in a tube and treated with a different chemical compound - 500,000 experiments in all.
Researchers found that certain molecules were able to kill the parasites.
After around six years of work, 631 candidate molecules for a "chemical vaccine" have been identified - a normal vaccine that would allow the body to make antibodies.
"If you could find a drug that you give on one day at one time that will kill all the malaria parasites in the person, both in the liver and in the bloodstream, and last for three to six months. Yeah, that'd be super but there is no drug like that right now," said Larry Slutsker, the leader of PATH's Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) programs.