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Scientists identify potential target for malaria drugs

Date:
November 27, 2013
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Summary:
Researchers have identified the protein in malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites that is inhibited by a newly discovered class of anti-malarial compounds known as imidazopyrazines. The protein, phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase, is the first potential malaria drug target shown to be essential to all stages of the Plasmodium life cycle; imidazopyrazines impede its activity throughout this process.

Malaria is transmitted to humans via the bite of a Plasmodium-carrying mosquito.
Credit: CDC/Jim Gathany

Researchers have identified the protein in malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites that is inhibited by a newly discovered class of anti-malarial compounds known as imidazopyrazines. The protein, phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase (PI4K), is the first

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potential malaria drug target shown to be essential to all stages of the Plasmodium life cycle; imidazopyrazines impede its activity throughout this process. Led by Elizabeth Winzeler, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego and Novartis Research Foundation, the research was published online today in Nature. The work was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and other organizations.

When a Plasmodium-carrying mosquito bites a human, it transmits infectious parasites that travel to the liver, where they multiply and mature, and then spread throughout the bloodstream, causing malaria symptoms to develop. Dr. Winzeler and her colleagues administered imidazopyrazines to mice and nonhuman primates infected with Plasmodium and found that the compounds blocked the parasites' development both in the liver and in the bloodstream stages of infection. They also exposed Plasmodium parasites directly to imidazopyrazines and searched for genetic differences between parasites susceptible to the compounds and those that were resistant. They found that the imidazopyrazine-resistant parasites had mutated versions of the gene that codes for PI4K.

Currently, only one drug, primaquine, has been approved for elimination of liver-stage parasites for the treatment of relapsing malaria. Knowing that PI4K makes Plasmodium parasites susceptible to imidazopyrazines during the liver and bloodstream stages should help researchers optimize these compounds for future clinical testing in humans, the study authors write.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Case W. McNamara, Marcus C. S. Lee, Chek Shik Lim, Siau Hoi Lim, Jason Roland, Advait Nagle, Oliver Simon, Bryan K. S. Yeung, Arnab K. Chatterjee, Susan L. McCormack, Micah J. Manary, Anne-Marie Zeeman, Koen J. Dechering, T. R. Santha Kumar, Philipp P. Henrich, Kerstin Gagaring, Maureen Ibanez, Nobutaka Kato, Kelli L. Kuhen, Christoph Fischli, Matthias Rottmann, David M. Plouffe, Badry Bursulaya, Stephan Meister, Lucia Rameh, Joerg Trappe, Dorothea Haasen, Martijn Timmerman, Robert W. Sauerwein, Rossarin Suwanarusk, Bruce Russell, Laurent Renia, Francois Nosten, David C. Tully, Clemens H. M. Kocken, Richard J. Glynne, Christophe Bodenreider, David A. Fidock, Thierry T. Diagana, Elizabeth A. Winzeler. Targeting Plasmodium PI(4)K to eliminate malaria. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nature12782

Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Scientists identify potential target for malaria drugs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127132902.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (2013, November 27). Scientists identify potential target for malaria drugs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127132902.htm
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Scientists identify potential target for malaria drugs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127132902.htm (accessed November 21, 2014).

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