Nav: Home

Yale Nobel laureate creates compound that halts growth of malaria parasite

April 02, 2012

A drug candidate that has shown promise for neutralizing dangerous bacteria also prevents the parasite that causes malaria from growing, new research by a Yale University team headed by Nobel laureate Sidney Altman shows.

The compound created in the labs of Altman and co-senior author Choukri Ben Mamoun at the Yale School of Medicine penetrates red blood cells and targets molecular machinery that enables the parasite to grow within the cells, according to findings published the week of April 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Malaria sickens more than 200 million people and kills more than a million people annually. The disease is caused by fives species of parasites of the genus Plasmodium, which is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes.

"While we primarily looked at one species of parasite, it is clear the compound also knocks out drug-resistant strains of malaria as well," Altman said. "This compound can wipe out strains that are currently resistant to drugs such as chloroquine and pyrimethamine."

The work is an outgrowth of the discovery by Yale immunobiology professor Alfred L. M. Bothwell of a basic peptide that the Yale team showed can penetrate cell walls and membranes. Altman and colleagues also added a piece of RNA to this peptide which then attaches to messenger RNA produced by parasites within the blood cells. The presence of this complex activates a molecular response that disables the parasite.

Altman's lab has already shown this compound can kill dangerous strains of bacteria and is currently investigating its efficacy in combating infections in skin wounds. The current paper illustrates the compound's effectiveness in red blood cell tissue culture. Altman stressed that more tests must be conducted to make sure the compound works in animals and people as well.

"It will be some time before this is commercially available," Altman said.
-end-
Altman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1989 along with Thomas R. Cech for their discoveries of the catalytic properties of RNA.

Other Yale authors of the study are Yoann Augagneur, Donna Wesolowski and Hyun Seop Tae.

The National Institutes of Health and Burroughs Wellcome Fund were the primary funding sources for the study.

Yale University

Related Malaria Articles:

Could there be a 'social vaccine' for malaria?
Malaria is a global killer and a world health concern.
Transgenic plants against malaria
Scientists have discovered a gene that allows to double the production of artemisinin in the Artemisia annua plant.
Fighting malaria through metabolism
EPFL scientists have fully modeled the metabolism of the deadliest malaria parasite.
Should we commit to eradicate malaria worldwide?
Should we commit to eradicate malaria worldwide, asks a debate article published by The BMJ today?
Investigational malaria vaccine shows considerable protection in adults in malaria season
An investigational malaria vaccine given intravenously was well-tolerated and protected a significant proportion of healthy adults against infection with Plasmodium falciparum malaria -- the deadliest form of the disease -- for the duration of the malaria season, according to new findings published in the Feb.
More Malaria News and Malaria Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...