A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) may help provide data for new drug development to treat a deadly form of malaria.
An NIH release said the study focused on the parasite plasmodium falciparum, the species of parasite that causes most of the world’s malaria deaths and which has become drug-resistance in five countries and in Southeast Asia.
The study found the parasite needed two proteins to infect red blood cells and to exit the cells after it multiples, a finding that could be key to developing anti-malaria drugs, the release said.
“In the current study, researchers sought to uncover the role of plasmepsins IX and X, two of the 10 types of plasmepsin proteins produced by P. falciparum for metabolic and other processes,” the NIH release said. “They created malaria parasites that lacked plasmepsin IX or X under experimental conditions and compared them to those that had the two proteins.”
Through the NIH study, researchers also helped to identify three experimental malaria drugs which target plasmepsin X.