An international team of scientists, including researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, have identified the first reported inhibitors of a key enzyme involved in survival of the parasite responsible for malaria. Their findings, which may provide the basis for anti-malarial drug development, were published July 19 in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
According to the World Health Organization, there were 216 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2010. Severe forms of the disease are mainly caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, transmitted to humans by female Anopheles mosquitoes. Malaria eradication has not been possible due to the lack of vaccines and the parasite’s ability to develop resistance to most drugs.