Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute have identified an enzyme vital to the survival of the malaria parasite. The work could lead to the development of a new class of antimalarial treatments which target this enzyme and stop the parasite replicating in the blood.
The malaria parasite has a complex life-cycle which includes invading red blood cells in order to replicate. As the parasites multiply within a cell, they eventually cause it to burst and the new parasites are released back into the blood stream where they enter other cells and the process repeats.
In their study, published in eLife, the researchers identified how the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum needs an enzyme, called SUB2, to successfully enter and survive in red blood cells.