New York, Dec 6 (IANS) A team of researchers has discovered that an anti-malarial compound tricks the immune system into rapidly destroying red blood cells infected with the malaria parasite without harming healthy cells.
The compound named (+)-SJ733 was developed from a molecule identified in previous research from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital that helped to jumpstart worldwide anti-malarial drug development efforts.
In this study, researchers determined that (+)-SJ733 uses a novel mechanism to kill the deadliest Plasmodium falciparum parasite by recruiting the immune system to eliminate malaria-infected red blood cells.
In a mouse model of malaria, a single dose of (+)-SJ733 killed 80 percent of malaria parasites within 24 hours. After 48 hours, the parasite was undetectable.
“Our goal is to develop an affordable, fast-acting combination therapy that cures malaria with a single dose,” said corresponding author R. Kiplin Guy, chair of the St. Jude’s department of chemical biology and therapeutics.
The results indicate that SJ733 and other compounds that act in a similar fashion are highly-attractive additions to the global malaria eradication campaign, “which would mean so much for the world’s children”, he added.
The study has appeared online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).