A group of scientists has identified a new enzyme responsible for the malaria parasite’s survival – the acetyl-CoA synthetase – which could become a new target for malaria drugs.

Studies from 2018 have identified two compounds that could potentially block this recently discovered enzyme, making them good candidates for the production of antimalarial drugs. Further studies are needed to assess the potency of these compounds, but they seem to be able to kill the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum at multiple stages of its life cycle. Most existing drugs exclusively target the form of the parasite that infects red blood cells; these two compounds can also kill Plasmodium falciparum at the stages when it infects human liver cells.

Increasing drug and insecticide resistance is one of the main challenges to eradicate malaria. Innovative approaches are vital if we want to overcome resistance. A combination of tools is more likely to lead us towards a malaria-free world, and this could include new drugs, vaccines, and gene drive mosquitoes.

Read more at MIT News.