Scientists inch closer to disrupt malaria parasite's life-cycle
The search for vaccination to stop the transmission of world's deadliest diseases, Malaria, has reached a new level as scientists are getting closer to disarrange the life-cycle of the parasite.
Dr Rita Tewari of the University of Nottingham has completed what she describes as a 'Herculean study', has said that the latest study identifies how protein phosphatases regulate parasite development and differentiation and the research provides a systematic functional analysis for all the 30 phosphatases in Plasmodium berghei, which is the parasite responsible for causing malaria in rodents.
She added that these enzymes work in tandem with the protein kinases identified by the same team in a complementary study carried out in 2010 and if they are able to find out what proteins are essential for these parasites to develop and divide then maybe they can target those proteins and arrest them with drugs or vaccines.
Using a number of molecular cell biology and biochemical techniques, Dr Tewari and her team found that half the phosphatase genes (16) could not be 'knocked out' suggesting some of these genes could be future drug targets as their presence is critical to parasite growth.
Dr Tewari said that it was interesting to see that out of the genes that could be knocked out (14), six were found to be crucial for sexual development and hence could be drug targets for parasite transmission to and from the mosquito.
She added that the research was gathered using the mouse malaria parasite which can be directly related to the human malaria parasite, as many of the genes share a very similar homology and symptoms of the diseases are very similar.
The research was carried out in collaboration with the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research (MRC-NIMR) in London, together with colleagues at Oxford University, Imperial College, London and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia.
Dr Tony Holder, Head of the MRC-NIMR Division of Parasitology, said that inhibitors of protein kinases are already used in treatments for other diseases and there is growing interest to develop phosphatase inhibitors as drugs and once the key kinases and phosphatases in the parasite life cycle are identified it will define the targets for drug development to treat human malaria and prevent its transmission in communities by the mosquito.
The research is published in the academic journal Cell Host and Microbe.
(Posted on 10-07-2014)