Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Scientists find ideal target for malaria therapy
Two groups of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists working independently have identified a critical enzyme that allows the malaria-causing parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, to take over and thrive in human red blood cells.
The enzyme plasmepsin V (PMV) is a gatekeeper inside the malaria parasite that allows the parasite to export its own proteins into a human red blood cell. Once PMV opens the gate into the red blood cell, the parasite moves hundreds of the proteins into cell, which remodels it and, eventually, annihilates it. The new observations demonstrate that PMV is critical to survival of the malaria parasite and suggest that drugs targeting PMV may be able to kill the parasite before it develops inside red blood cells. This research was published by HHMI international research scholar Alan Cowman and HHMI investigator Daniel Goldberg in two articles in the February 4, 2010, issue of Nature.
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