A new breakthrough in the development of effective antimalarial drugs, The plasmodium parasite that causes malaria is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Parasites can be used for these two completely different hosts because they can adapt as needed due to the plasticity of the genome.
Scientists have identified molecules that can inhibit DNA methylation and effectively kill even the most stubborn Plasmodium falciparum parasite.
Malaria affects more than 200 million people worldwide each year, and resistance to malaria treatment continues to increase. This infectious disease is caused by the Plasmodium parasite which can adapt to diverse environments. During the parasite life cycle, it lives in the mosquito vector salivary glands before it infects the liver and then the human host blood.
Therefore, the scientists decided to work on the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, especially in strains of artemisinin-resistant parasites, provided by the Pasteur du Cambodge Institute. In the first series of in vitro experiments with Plasmodium falciparum, parasites were allowed to interact with human red blood cells so they could be infected and thrive in them.
Then more than 70 methylation inhibiting molecules were tested to evaluate their effectiveness and specificity for parasites. After we tested the first molecule, we saw significant activity comparable to drugs such as chloroquine.
Then the scientists continued their research. In a second set of experiments, the most effective molecule was tested on resistant isolates, and the results were clear again: the molecule effectively killed blood parasites.
For the first time, this study shows that parasites in the blood, including strains that are resistant to artemisinin, can be quickly killed by targeted DNA methylation. Because of the lack of care, especially in Southeast Asia, it is important to find new therapeutic goals.
In the third phase of their work, the scientific team tested in vivo inhibitors in mice infected with the parasitic Plasmodium berghei. The approach was successful again: treatment killed blood parasites and mice survived brain malaria infections.
The next step for the two research teams is to further optimize the selectivity and efficiency of the most promising molecules (this is very important if the molecules will be used in humans) and to identify molecules that can work at other stages of development. the parasite responsible. for transmission.