Good news re. malaria treatment

Since malaria is, along with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, one of the “big three” diseases targeted by — among other things, the Global Fund and PEPFAR — I wanted to post on an important development in malaria treatment research, made by a group of scientists in Australia.

According to the BBC, “Malaria is preventable and curable, but can be fatal if not treated promptly. The disease kills more than a million people each year. Many of the victims are young children in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Phil Mercer from the BBC reports,

Researchers in Melbourne believe their discovery could be a major breakthrough in the fight against the disease.

The malaria parasite produces a glue-like substance which makes the cells it infects sticky, so they cannot be flushed through the body.

The researchers have shown removing a protein responsible for the glue can destroy its stickiness, and undermine the parasite’s defence. […]

Professor Alan Cowman, a member of the research team at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, said targeting the protein with drugs – or possibly a vaccine – could be key to fighting malaria.

“If we block the stickiness we essentially block the virulence or the capacity of the parasite to cause disease,” he said.

Obviously, this is good news.  Let’s hope this research can quickly be turned into practical prevention and/or treatment options available to help people in the developing world.

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~ by h.e.g. on July 15, 2008.

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