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Malaria research begins to bite
Date:10/21/2010

into another host in large numbers when the mosquito bites again. Once inside its mammalian host the parasite first infects the liver where it replicates again. After 48 hours millions of parasites are released into the red bloods cells of its host where they attack in vast numbers overwhelming their host producing high fever and sickness.

Dr Oliver Billker, an expert in pathogen genetics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: "This is a major leap forward we can now set aside these 23 functionally redundant genes. This act of prioritisation alone has narrowed the set of targets for drug searches by a third. "Our study demonstrates how a large scale gene knockout study can guide drug development efforts towards the right targets. We must now develop the technology to ask across the genome which pathways are important for parasite development and transmission."

As the malaria parasite becomes increasingly resistant to existing drugs and vaccines the race to find ways of blocking the transmission of malaria is becoming increasingly important. Last month the journal PLoS ONE published Dr Tewari's research which identified a protein, PF16, which is critical in the development of the malaria parasite specifically the male sex cells (gametes) which are essential in the spread by mosquitoes of this lethal parasite. The study, led by The University of Nottingham, found a way of disabling the PF16 protein.

In future studies, Dr Tewari's group is concentrating on the role of other signalling molecules like phosphatases, kinases and armadillo repeat proteins and their interaction in understanding malaria parasite development. The aim is to identify the best drug or vaccine target along the way.

The University of Nottingham has broad research portfolio but has also identified and badged 13 research priority groups, in which a concentration of expertise, collaboration and resources create significant critical mass. Key rese
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Contact: Lindsay Brooke
lindsay.brooke@nottingham.ac.uk
44-115-951-5751
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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