Aussie doctors pave the way for powerful new malaria drug

A Rohingya boy suffering from malaria in Sittwe, Arakan state, Burma. More than 500,000 people, mostly children, die from the disease every year.

New malaria drugs that stop the parasite in its tracks may be on the way thanks to a breakthrough by Australian scientists.

The researchers in Melbourne blocked the export of important proteins in red blood cells, essential for the malaria parasite to survive. The parasite modifies red blood cells to attract more nutrients for it own growth and then sticks to the walls of blood vessels, effectively hiding itself from the immune system.

The research by groups from from the Burnet Institute, Deakin University and Monash University was published in Nature.

Burnet Institute Director and CEO, and co-author of the paper, Professor Brendan Crabb said the world is desperate for new treatment avenues as there is just one drug, artemisinin, left to treat the disease.

This is a major advance in the quest for new malaria drugs. If we can discover a drug that blocks the protein complex that comprises this gateway, you can effectively block the functioning of several hundred proteins.

Malaria is one of the most devastating diseases in the world with more than 200 million new cases every year. More than half a million people, mainly children, die from the disease every year.

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