Annually, over 200 million people are infected with malaria, around 400,000 of them die.


Ateam of researchers from Australian National University (ANU) on Thursday announced that it had discovered a vulnerability in the metabolism of a deadly parasite that causes malaria.

The university said that the discovery could become the `fatal chink’ in its armour and be exploited for development of effective treatment.

According to the classification of the World Health Organisation, malaria is a life-threatening, but preventable and curable disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through bites of infected mosquitoes.

Annually, over 200 million people are infected with malaria, around 400,000 of them die.

Merryn Fraser, lead researcher in the project, said “we found that when the parasite ingests certain nutrients, it causes the red blood cell to turn on a distress beacon. This would call the immune cells in to attack the parasite.’’

The researcher stated that these “chinks in the parasite’s armuor’’ can be effectively used to create new drugs to battle malaria.

She noted that “We then found that we could exploit this vulnerability by using a particular chemical on the red blood cells, which increased the chances of the parasites being eaten by the immune cells.’’

This is a major discovery that would help solve the recent issue of increased resistance of malaria parasites to traditional drugs used for treatment.

“We’re getting really worried about parasite drug resistance and that is underpinning our need to look for new drugs and new treatments,’’ Ms. Fraser added.

Due to climate change the range of habitat of malaria mosquitoes has increased, prompting researchers to look for more and better ways to fight the disease.

The new findings made by the ANU team are part of a larger study into interactions between the malaria parasite and the human immune system aimed at eradicating malaria worldwide.

By Editor

Teacher, Reporter, and Blogger

Leave a Reply