A new method of treating or preventing malaria has come to light with the discovery of the protein that makes the disease lethal. The parasite Plasmodium falciparum , that causes cerebral malaria, annually infects about 300 million people, of which two to three million die. The parasite invades red blood cells and produces proteins that make the cells stick to capillaries. Some Australian scientists have discovered the way in which the parasite produces the proteins that make the cells stick to -- and clog -- capillaries in the brain. They have also succeeded in preventing the cells from sticking to mock human capillaries. This was achieved by adding an extra stretch of DNA to the gene, blocking production of the protein. The findings may lead to the development of drugs that block the functions of the protein, preventing the disease ( New Scientist , Vol 154, No 2078).
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