Modified Osteoporosis Drug Kills Malaria Parasite

New research out of the University of Illinois suggests that a modified drug used to fight osteoporosis could prove to be useful in the battle against malaria.

Researchers have tested similar compounds against other forms of parasitic protozoa, but the altered osteoporosis drug used in a test on mice showed that the drug readily crossed into the red blood cells of mice infected with the malaria disease, killing the parasite.

Even better, the study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that the modified osteoporosis drug is effective at killing the malaria parasite in mice at very low concentrations, and there was no observed toxicity to the mice.

The modified osteoporosis drug works by inhibiting an enzyme in the malaria parasite that creates a defense for itself, which has proven in the past to be a barrier for effectively killing the parasite once and for all.

Various measures exist to combat the malaria parasite, many of which are still effective, but the parasite evolves with every new drug that tries to stop it, and new drug-resistant strains are constantly emerging, making it difficult to create an end-all treatment.

With the new research involving the modified osteoporosis drug, researchers are hopeful that anti-malaria drug research will take a significant step forward.

“We are the first to show that the enzyme (geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase) is a valid target for malaria,” said Yonghui Zhang, the study’s co-author. “Our work gives a new direction to find new anti-malarial drugs.”

Source: Science Daily