Credit: Colourbox

Ollie Rudden
Deputy News Editor

New ground-breaking research found by a global team of scientists led by the University of Glasgow has found a drug that could stop the spread of malaria and treat suffers of the disease.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting 200 million people and takes the lives of half a million people annually, mostly children.

Caused by plasmodium parasitic which infects humans through the bite of a mosquito, the parasitic then grows in the liver and in red blood cells. Parasites can also take on male or female form, which can re-infect mosquitoes when they bite and suck blood from infected people. 

Led by Professor Andrew Tobin of the University of Glasgow, a drug has been discovered that can kill the parasite at all stages of its life cycle.

The new drug works by stopping the activity of a protein known as PfCLK3, which runs the production of other proteins that keep the parasite alive. Not only will the drug effectively kill the parasite by stopping its activity, it will also prevent it from spreading and possibly could treat humans suffering from malaria. 

Professor Tobin, a Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at the University stated: “We are tremendously excited about these new findings, and hope they pave the way for the first step in the eradication of malaria. Our work has shown that by killing the parasites at the various stages of parasite development, we have not only discovered a potential cure for malaria but also a way of stopping the spread of malaria from person to mosquito which can then infect other people.”

Professor Andy Waters, Director of the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Parasitology at the University of Glasgow and a co-author of the study said: “By inhibiting PfCLK3 we have shown that the production of proteins necessary for the survival of the parasite is stopped and this kills the parasite at multiple stages.

“In this way we have found a way to stop the transmission of the parasite by killing the form of the parasite that infects mosquitoes, thereby preventing the parasite from being transferred from one person to another.”

Costs for this study were funded by Wellcome, The Medical Research Council (MRC) and Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation. Research was carried out in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, the University of California, University of Leicester, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, the University of Oxford and The MRC Unit - The Gambia.

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