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Molecular models advance the fight against malaria

te and study the respiratory enzyme cytochrome bc1 complex, which the parasites need to live and multiply. A protein subunit of the bc1 complex is where the malaria parasite mutates to counter anti-malarial drug therapies. Yeast is an effective resource because it can be safely grown in large quantities and can be easily modified to take on the qualities of more dangerous pathogens, without risking human infection.

When the researchers genetically transferred mutations into the yeast surrogates, the yeast acquired resistance to atovaquone just as the malaria parasites had done. The team was then able to apply computerized modeling techniques to illustrate exactly how the drug interacted with the cytochrome bc1 complex ?the respiratory enzyme the parasites need to live and multiply -- on a molecular level. With this new understanding of how the parasites were able to counter the effects of atovaquone, researchers can now design new anti-malarial drugs with features making the appearance of resistance more unlikely.

"Within the next 3-5 years, we hope to develop a new drug that will finally empower us to treat this terrible disease," said Trumpower.

Dartmouth Medical School co-authors of the paper are Dr. Jacques Kessl, research associate in biochemistry, Kevin Ha, Anne Merritt and Benjamin Lange. Other co-authors are Dr. Brigitte Meunier and Philip Hill from the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research in London and Dr. Steven Meshnick from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.


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Source:Dartmouth Medical School


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