Scientists have discovered a new molecules that can kill the malaria parasite, paving way for effective treatment for the disease.Using ultra sophisticated computerised modelling tools, researchers were successful in identifying a type of candidate molecules toxic for the pathogen, but not for the infected human red blood cells.
The most severe form of malaria is caused by infection with Plasmodium falciparum. The eradication of this parasite is even more difficult as it becomes resistant to treatments. The group led by Didier Picard from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, showed interest in the protein Heat Shock Protein 90 (HSP90), which plays a central role for several factors involved in the life cycle, survival and resistance of the pathogen. Expressed in organisms as diverse as bacteria and mammal cells, HSP90 acts as a "chaperone", by helping other proteins during both normal and stressful periods. In the Plasmodium, HSP90 protects parasitic proteins during high fevers triggered by its presence. The chaperone also participates in the maturation of the pathogen in human red blood cells.