A new innovation in the sector of the medicine is done and that is a newly prescribed protein that could be an active target for contending with drug-resistant malaria parasites. The protein and the transcription factor PfAP2-I controls a number of genes involved in the parasite’s assault of red blood cells, a critical part of the parasite’s intricate life cycle that could be targeted by the new antimalarial drugs. A paper explaining the protein PfAP2-I and its important role in the invasion process appears June 14, 2017, in the Journal Cell Host & Microbe.
Manuel Llina’s Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Penn State University and lead author of the paper said “The reality is that there are resistant parasites to every known antimalarial drug’, he further said, “We need targeting different aspects of parasite biology”.
If we observe the number than nearly half of the world’s population lives in those areas where they are at the risk of transmitting malaria, a serious and sometimes fatal disease that produces symptoms such as chills, fevers, and flu-like illness.
According to the World Health Organization, over 212 million cases of malaria were reported in the year 2015, with an estimated 429, 000 deaths, and the majority of which happens in young children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Plasmodium parasites caused malaria, which have a complex 3-stage life cycle. When the parasite-carrying mosquito bites a person then the parasite infects liver cells, where it grows and multiplies. The parasites then attack red blood cells, where they further multiplies, discharging daughter parasites, or merozoites, which in return must invade red blood cells. The symptoms of the disease malaria are expressed during this cyclical 48-hour red blood cell life-stage.
Llina’s said a very simple but important statement over this “Quite simply, if you prevent the parasite from invading red blood cells, you prevent any disease,” he further added that “we want to understand how this invasion process is regulated at the genetic level. One of the unique features about Plasmodium is that it has very few transcription factors proteins that bind it to specific DNA sequences to direct which genes should be turned on and when. Most multi-celled organisms have hundreds of these regulators but it turns out, so far as we can recognize, the parasite has a single family of transcription factors called Apicomplexan AP2 proteins. One of these transcription factors is PfAP2-I”.
Instead of targeting the merozoite surface proteins with a vaccine, a new drug could only focus on inhabiting PfAP2-I, preventing it from binding to DNA and initiating the expression of invasion genes, or stopping PfAP2-I from recruiting other important proteins like PfBDP1, would stop an infection before it reaches the red blood cells. The drug which targets the transcription factor will added benefit to specificity making it safer with less potential side-effects in humans.
Llinas’ says “Now that we know how the invasion process is regulated, we have completely new angle for targeting the parasite through pharmacological intervention”.