Sunday, July 13, 2008

Breakthrough in fight against malaria

Malaria is preventable and curable, but can be fatal if not treated promptly. Malaria kills an estimated 3000 children each day in sub-Saharan Africa according to AMREF. The CDC estimates that there are 300-500 million cases of malaria each year, and more than 1 million people die.

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne Australia have identified a potential treatment to combat malaria by pinpointing the process that helps the disease hijack red blood cells.

They have found the key to an adhesive that stops the parasite being flushed out to the spleen where the parasites would be destroyed. The removal of just one of these compounds is enough to bring the process to a halt.

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have identified eight proteins that allow this glue-like substance onto the surface of a hijacked cell. Proteins are nature's building blocks. They are large molecules that are essential for the function of cells in the body. Targeting those proteins could be a key to fighting malaria.

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