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Compounds defeat malaria at every step

Experimental drugs are first to kill all stages of the parasite’s infection cycle

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1:12pm, November 27, 2013

STAGED SHUTDOWN  Compounds that block a key enzyme in malaria parasites kill the protozoans in all stages of infection, new experiments show. A magnified Plasmodium falciparum parasite taken from a blood sample is shown.

By striking at a critical enzyme in malaria parasites, researchers can defeat the protozoan in all stages of an infection. Compounds kill even those forms of the parasite that hide in the liver or lie low in the bloodstream.

The new battle plan, published November 27 in Nature, arrives at a time when malaria parasites are becoming increasingly resistant to drugs. Malaria parasites, protozoans in the genus Plasmodium, exist in several distinct life stages within the human body, each of which has different treatment requirements. In the study, scientists could wipe out P. vivax and P. falciparum — the main human-infecting parasites — in lab dishes and clear other strains of the infection in mice.

The team used chemicals called imidazopyrazines to stymie the malaria by disabling an enzyme in the parasite that controls the transport of lipid molecules across membranes. The

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