A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes a compound which potentially prevents growth of the parasite that causes malaria. The compound was developed by Sidney Altman and Choukri Ben Mamoun , of the Yale School of Medicine.
The compound functions by penetrating red blood cells and targets molecular machinery that enables the parasite (which are of the genus Plasmodium) to grow within the cells.
The work is an outgrowth of the discovery by Yale immunobiology professor Alfred L. M. Bothwell of a basic peptide that the Yale team showed can penetrate cell walls and membranes. Altman and colleagues also added a piece of RNA to this peptide which then attaches to messenger RNA produced by parasites within the blood cells. The presence of this complex activates a molecular response that disables the parasite.
The paper reference is:
Yoann Augagneur, Donna Wesolowski, Hyun Seop Tae, Sidney Altman, and Choukri Ben Mamoun. Gene selective mRNA cleavage inhibits the development of Plasmodium falciparum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 2, 2012
For more information, refer to Yale University.