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Has Australian research revealed malaria’s “Achilles heel”?

10 Feb 2010

Posted by: Paul Chinnock - Editorial Team

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The transcript is available of a short ABC radio interview with Australian scientist Professor Alan Cowman who describes his recent study [1] on the so-called effector proteins that the malaria parasite uses in order to successfully invade red blood cells.

Professor Cowman believes that there is one protein that “decides” how all of these proteins are to be exported. He hopes that this protein - plasmepsin V - will turn out to be the Achilles heel of malaria and that a new type of malaria drug can be developed that works by targeting plasmepsin V.

The study appears in Nature in the same issue as a paper by US malaria researchers who report [2] they have found more than two dozen smell receptors in the malaria-transmitting mosquito Anopheles gambiae that enables the insect to home in on human sweat. They believe that some of the receptors “could be excellent targets” for chemicals to snare mosquitoes or repel them,

References
1. Boddey JA, Hodder AN, G√ľnther S, Gilson PR, Patsiouras H, Kapp EA, Pearce JA, de Koning-Ward TF, Simpson RJ, Crabb BS, Cowman AF (2010). An aspartyl protease directs malaria effector proteins to the host cell. Nature; 463(7281):627-631.
2. Carey AF, Wang G, Su CY, Zwiebel LJ, Carlson JR (2010). Odorant reception in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae. Nature; Feb 3. [Epub ahead of print]

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