Scientists have developed a revolutionary tool to fight drug-resistant malaria

Malaria is a fever caused by Plasmodium parasites that are transmitted to humans through the bites of mosquitoes infected with female Anopheles mosquitoes.

As the effectiveness of conventional antimalarial drugs deteriorates, a new approach to fighting malaria that sees the disease turning on itself could provide viable therapy for the hundreds of millions of people affected around the world each year.

The study discovered ML901, an antimalarial chemical that suppresses the malaria parasite without harming cells in humans or other mammals.

Self-destructing parasite due to new instrument

(Photo: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)

Professor Leann Tilley of the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute said the ML901 molecule essentially makes the parasite the agent of its own destruction, which explains its potency and selectivity, according to ScienceDaily.

Professor Tilley said ML901 works through an interesting reaction hijacking mechanism.

Consider a secret weapon that can be used to cause your car to self-destruct by slamming on the brakes and killing the engine.

ML901 identifies a flaw in the mechanism of the malaria parasite to produce the proteins it needs to replicate and disables it.

Testing was undertaken using molecules provided by Takeda Pharmaceuticals in partnership with Medicines for Malaria Medicine, the world’s leading organization for antimalarial drug discovery and innovation facilities spanning five continents, during which the chemical ML901 was discovered.

Once inside the parasite, ML901 latched onto an amino acid and attacked the parasite’s protein synthesis engine from the inside, stalling it to a halt.

Human cells are not vulnerable to ML901 due to their molecular structure.

ML901 killed malaria parasites that were resistant to currently used drugs in experiments using both human blood cultures and an animal model of malaria.

It has also demonstrated rapid and persistent activity, resulting in good parasite killing.

At least 200 million new malaria infections are identified each year worldwide, resulting in more than 600,000 deaths in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Resistance to antimalarial drugs has steadily increased over the past 50 years, signaling a looming catastrophe in which breakthrough treatments are needed.

Professor Tilley said the team was ready to explore the development of new antimalarial drugs based on such findings.

Read also : Scientists will use geoengineering to lower global temperatures and fight the spread of malaria


According to the latest World Malaria Report, there will be 241 million cases of malaria in 2020, up from 227 million in 2019.

Malaria deaths are expected to reach 627,000 in 2020, an increase of 69,000 from the previous year.

While nearly two-thirds of these deaths (47,000) were caused by disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the remaining third (22,000) were caused by a recent adjustment in WHO methodology on the Malaria mortality (regardless of disruptions related to COVID-19).

The new cause-of-death determination technique has been tested in 32 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which account for nearly 93% of all malaria deaths worldwide.

Since 2000, malaria has taken a much greater toll on young Africans, according to the approach.

Early detection and treatment decrease malaria illness, prevent deaths and help minimize transmission.

All suspected cases of malaria should be verified using parasite-based diagnostic tests, according to the WHO by microscopy or by a rapid diagnostic test.

Diagnostic tests allow doctors to quickly identify malarial and non-malarial fevers, making treatment more effective.

Artemisinin-based combination therapy is the current best treatment, especially for P. falciparum malaria (ACT).

The basic goal of therapy is to quickly and completely eliminate Plasmodium parasites to prevent a simple case of malaria from escalating into severe illness or death.

Related article: Conical snail venom may contain the cure for malaria, study finds

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