Research on malaria may throw light on treating Covid-19

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on August 12, 2020

Can help in speeding up vaccine development, says researchers

Breakthrough research in malaria has paved the way to look at the problem of the novel coronavirus from a completely new angle. The research led by RMIT University's Professor Christian Doerig suggested that enzymes from the human host should be targeted rather than targeting the pathogens.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the team showed that the parasites that cause malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, largely depend on the enzymes present in the red blood cells. This is where the parasites dodge the immune response and spread in the body of the host.

“Evidence is emerging that signal transduction elements are activated in a-nucleated erythrocytes in response to infection with malaria parasites, but the extent of this phenomenon remains unknown. Here, we fill this knowledge gap through a comprehensive and dynamic assessment of host erythrocyte signalling during infection with Plasmodium falciparum,” the researchers explained.

The authors of the study said that research should be conducted on the reliance of the parasites on the human host.

This method will be cost-effective and help in the acceleration of vaccine development.

“The host enzymes are in many instances the same as those activated in cancer cells, so we can now jump on the back of existing cancer drug discovery and look to re-purpose a drug that is already available or close to completion of the drug development process," Jack Adderley explained of the research.

Doerig added: “We are at risk of returning to the pre-antibiotic era if we don't solve this resistance problem, which constitutes a clear and present danger for global public health. We need innovative ways to address this issue.”

“By targeting the host and not the pathogen itself, we remove the possibility for the pathogen to rapidly become resistant by mutating the target of the drug, as the target is made by the human host, not the pathogen,” he further explained.

The team is set to work with Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity to study this approach for potential Covid-19 treatment.


Published on August 12, 2020

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