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Discovery of key malaria proteins could mean sticky end for parasite
Date:7/9/2008

ofessor Cowman. "They also suggest that a drug that targets the 'stickiness' proteins could be an effective treatment for malaria."

Malaria is currently treated using drugs that kill the parasites. However, as the parasites evolve, they have become increasingly resistant to existing treatments such as chloroquine and mefloquine, and there is some evidence of increasing resistance against even the most effect and newest treatments, artemisinin derivatives such as artesunate.

"Malaria parasites are evolving, making our current treatments increasingly less effective," says Professor Alister Craig from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, who collaborated on the project. "This suggests we need to approach the problem using a different strategy. A drug which prevents disease rather than killing the parasite might be important because it could retain natural inoculation in the patient, limiting damage caused by the parasite and providing protection from further infection."

The research was carried out by interfering with the function of specific genes on a scale not previously attempted in the malaria parasite. By blocking or "knocking out" the function of these genes the team was able to identify those important for allowing the parasite to stick to the walls of blood vessels.


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Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7329
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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