Scientists make breakthrough discovery to fight malaria

December 4, 2014 12:25 pm 

SYDNEY, Dec. 4 — Australian scientists have made a breakthrough discovery in a new way to destroy the malaria parasite, which kills more than 500,000 people every year.

Scientists from the Australian National University (ANU), working with other research groups, have found that certain molecules are capable of disabling a molecular salt pump on the surface of the malaria parasite, and this in turn causes the parasite to fill up with salt and burst.

The ANU's Professor Kiaran Kirk said the malaria parasite had become resistant to nearly all of the drugs currently available and discovering new ways to kill the parasite was vital.

"It is critical that new ways are found to kill the parasite and thereby treat people with the disease," he told Fairfax Media on Thursday. "We've discovered what seems to be a fatal weakness in the parasite."

"The salt pump clearly plays a crucial role in the parasite's survival, and what we have shown is that there are many different types of molecules that can stop this salt pump from working, and which thereby kill the parasite. This pump would seem to be a real Achilles heel."

Kirk said the new treatment has already passed clinical trials and would be available in a few years. (PNA/Xinhua)

FFC/EBP

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