Modifying molecules originally developed to treat skin disease psoriasis could lead to a new effective drug against malaria, researchers have found.
The researchers modified a class of molecules called pantothenamides to increase their stability in humans.
The new compounds stop the malaria parasite from reproducing in infected humans and being transmitted to mosquitoes.
They are also effective against malaria parasites resistant to currently available drugs. In a study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers are confident that preventing the transmission of malaria parasites from infected people to mosquitos, these molecules can reduce the chances of mosquitoes being infectious to others.
Malaria is still a global threat with around 216 million cases and 400,000 deaths annually. “We have known for a long time that pantothenamides are extremely potent against the malaria parasite, but they become unstable within biological fluids because an enzyme clips them apart before they can act,” said Manuel Llinás, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and an author of the study.