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Researchers develop new method to help find deadly malaria parasite's Achilles heel

cause Plasmodium falciparum has developed resistance to those drugs. Even mosquitoes that transmit malaria are developing resistance to the most commonly used insecticides.

"The demonstration that the Plasmodium protein network differs significantly from those of several model organisms is an intriguing result that could lead to the identification of novel drug targets for fighting malaria," said John Whitmarsh, acting director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partially funded the work. "Ideker and his team have demonstrated the effectiveness of a computational approach based on mathematics for understanding complex biological interactions."

Researchers studying protein expression under controlled laboratory conditions have been slowed because techniques designed for other organisms work poorly with Plasmodium because 80 percent of its genome is comprised of only two of the four building blocks of DNA.

Stanly Fields, a professor of genomic sciences at the University of Washington who invented an ingenious way to identify pairs of proteins that physically interact with one another, modified his technique and added special culture conditions to enable his group to study Plasmodium. Fields's team and collaborators at Prolexys Pharmaceuticals of Salt Lake City, UT, discovered 2,846 interactions involving 1,312 Plasmodium falciparum proteins. The team provided data on those interactions to Ideker's group earlier and also reported the results in the Nov. 3 issue of Nature.

Ideker's team applied a rigorous statistical analysis approach to the Fields group's Plasmodium data, focusing on interacting proteins that have homologs in other species. While the genomes of hundreds of species are filled with homologous proteins, Ideker and his colleagues are eager to understand how they interact with one another as part of a new approach to help in the design of dru
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Source:University of California - San Diego


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