Putting Malaria Bugs Back On The Defensive

Malaria ravages the developing world: Across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, some 500 million people suffer from it--and 2 million of them, mainly children, die each year. Things have gotten worse in the past decade, as the malaria parasite has developed resistance to chloroquine, the standard drug used to treat the disease.

Now, Dr. Daniel E. Goldberg of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., is developing new drugs to tackle the wily bug. It normally invades red blood cells and uses powerful enzymes to devour oxygen-carrying hemoglobin, from which it steals components to fuel attacks on other cells. Goldberg hopes to starve the parasite by blocking the enzymes' ability to chew up hemoglobin. He has identified several promising drugs that mimic a tasty site on the hemoglobin. The enzymes bind to these drugs instead of the hemoglobin and are rendered harmless. Monsanto Co. is helping to fund the research, and animal tests could begin in a year.


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