Increased knowledge of the malaria parasite and the connection with the development of resistance may contribute to the development of new malaria treatments.
During the last decade, drug-resistant malaria parasites evolved in Southeast Asia. The most deadly malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, has recently been shown to be resistant to the main component of malaria therapies (artemisinins).
This is shown by Professor Max Petzold among others in the article Novel polymorphisms in Plasmodium falciparum ABC Transporter Genes Are Associated with Major ACT Anti Mala Rial Drug Resistance (published on www.plosone.org). The study led to increased knowledge and awareness of the parasite’s genes and their relationship with resistance.
The results may be important for how future therapies against malaria must be designed, says Max Petzold.
About 40 percent of the worlds’ population is exposed to malaria, which causes about one million deaths per year, mostly among children.
The study was initiated when signs of resistance in some areas of Cambodia had been seen. The resistance is believed to be caused by changes in three of the parsite’s proteins.
The authors of the article reports that they have found previously unknown variations in the genes that control the proteins in the parasite. In addition, there is a connection between these variations and the parasite’s susceptibility to malaria of processing elements (artemisinin, dihydroartemisinin, mefloquine or lumefantrine).The results will contribute to an increasing knowledge of the malaria parasite genes, which can be used in the development of future drugs against serious disease.