Thursday, March 10, 2011

New breakthrough in fighting malaria


Malaria affects hundreds of millions of people every year. It is spread by mosquitoes carrying a parasite that, once introduced to your body, multiplies by manipulating signaling pathways in your liver and red blood cells. The parasite's ability to quickly develop resistance to drugs has hindered attempts to find an effective treatment for the disease. However, it was recently discovered that certain drugs used for chemotherapy can also cure malaria. By disabling the host cells' signaling pathways, these "kinase inhibitors" effectively kill the malaria parasite since it can no longer proliferate. This discovery presents an entirely new method of curing malaria in which we target the host cell environment rather than the parasite itself. This method has several benefits: 1. it is effective against all strains of malaria, 2. the parasite won't be able to develop drug resistance, and 3. since there are already many chemotherapy drugs that have been deemed relatively safe and that could potentially be effective against malaria, it might not be necessary to develop a whole new drug. This breakthrough is a huge step toward a much more effective and permanent treatment of this disease.

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