Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in
Email:
Password:

New hope for treating malaria

Researchers at the University of Leeds in the UK have developed chemicals which kill the most deadly malaria-causing parasite, including those resistant to existing drugs

Researchers at the University of Leeds in the UK have developed chemicals which kill the most deadly malaria-causing parasite, Plasmodium falciparum – including those resistant to existing drugs.

The compounds work by preventing the enzyme dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) - essential to the growth of the parasite - from working, resulting in its death. 

"Without this enzyme, Plasmodium falciparum is unable to grow and therefore it dies. The inhibitors developed at Leeds bind to the DHODH enzyme in the parasite and stop it functioning, preventing the proliferation of the parasites, which live in red blood cells. In addition, our chemicals are equally effective against parasites that have developed resistance to drugs," says lead researcher, Dr Glenn McConkey, from Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences.

He adds: "DHODH in humans is not an essential enzyme, so by concentrating our studies on it we can develop chemical inhibitors that have a negative impact on the parasite without any major side effects to the human host. In effect, we are exploiting a biological difference, and this will allow us to develop potent, selective inhibitors."

"Our chemicals are particularly exciting as they kill malaria parasites at low concentrations, something that is important for medicines as they are massively diluted on entering the bloodstream and, unlike many pharmaceutical products, we have a firm understanding of the molecular basis of their action. This project highlights the benefits of combining biological and chemistry disciplines." 

The next stage is to develop a larger collection of potent inhibitors and to see how these work alongside commonly-used treatments. 

The paper, "Structure-Based Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of Inhibitors of Human and Plasmodium falciparum Dihydroorotate Dehydrogenases", published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, was supported in part by a World Health Organisation tropical diseases research grant and a grant from Medicines for Malaria Venture. 

22nd April 2009

Share

Featured jobs

Subscribe to our email news alerts

PMHub

Add my company
Research Partnership

We are one of the largest independent healthcare market research and consulting agencies in the world. Trusted partner to the...

Latest intelligence

How can pharma engage with key stakeholders on NHS service transformation?
Steve How, Paul Midgley and Oli Hudson, of the Wilmington Healthcare consulting team, explain how pharma should make its case for change...
michael elliot
The race for an HIV ‘cure’
Supercharging therapies as pharma and patients work together...
Medopad: the up and coming unicorn transforming remote patient monitoring
Blue Latitude Health speaks to Medopad’s Martha Carruthers to learn how the start-up’s modular apps are helping patients with complex diseases....

Infographics