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article imageNew compound shows anti-malaria promise

By Tim Sandle     Dec 13, 2014 in Science
New York - A newly developed anti-malarial compound can trigger the immune system into rapidly destroying red blood cells infected with the malaria parasite and, at the same time, leave healthy blood cells intact.
The new compound is called (+)-SJ733. The chemical was developed from a molecule identified in a previous trial. In a new study, scientists have shown that (+)-SJ733 uses a special mechanism to destroy the malaria parasite. This mechanism is by recruiting the immune system to eliminate malaria-infected red blood cells.
Malaria is caused by a single-celled parasite belonging to a group of organisms called Plasmodium. The parasite is transmitted by mosquitoes in territories in some 100 countries and the disease presents a risk to about 3.3 billion people. Mosquitoes spread the parasite to humans through their bites; the parasite then travels to the liver, where it matures and reproduces in forms that infect the red cells and cause clinical symptoms.
Successful tests were undertaken using a mouse model of malaria. With these trials, a single dose of (+)-SJ733 killed 80 percent of malaria parasites within 24 hours. After 48 hours, in all mice, the parasite was undetectable. Further analysis showed that (+)-SJ733 disrupted activity of the ATP4 protein in the parasites. Following this, inhibiting ATP4 triggers a series of changes in malaria-infected red blood cells that marked them for destruction by the immune system.
Based on the success of the initial trials, planning has begun for safety trials of the compound in healthy adults.
The study was carried out at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the findings have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research is titled “( )-SJ733, a clinical candidate for malaria that acts through ATP4 to induce rapid host-mediated clearance of Plasmodium.”
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