Antibody array data showing activation of kinases in human red blood cells infected with the malaria parasite.
New research into malaria suggests targeting enzymes from the human host, rather than from the pathogen itself, could offer effective treatment for a range of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
The study, conducted by an international team and led by RMIT University’s Professor Christian Doerig, outlines a strategy that could save years of drug discovery research and millions of dollars in drug development by repurposing existing treatments designed for other diseases such as cancer.
The approach shows so much promise it has received government funding for its potential application in the fight against COVID-19.
The study, published in Nature Communications, demonstrated that the parasites that cause malaria are heavily dependent on enzymes in red blood cells where the parasites hide and proliferate.
It also revealed that drugs developed for cancer, and which inactivate these human enzymes, known as protein kinases, are highly effective in killing the parasite and represent an alternative to drugs that target the parasite itself.
Lead author, RMIT’s Dr Jack Adderley, said the analysis revealed which of the host cell enzymes were activated during infection, revealing novel points of reliance of the parasite on its human host.
“This approach has the potential to considerably reduce the cost and accelerate the deployment of new and urgently needed antimalarials,” he said
“These host enzymes are in many instances the same as those activated in cancer cells, so we can now jump on the back of existing cancer drug discovery and look to repurpose a drug that is already available or close to completion of the drug development process.”
As well as enabling the repurposing of drugs, the approach is likely to reduce the emergence of drug resistance, as the pathogen cannot escape by simply mutating the target of the drug, as is the case for most currently available antimalarials.
Doerig, Associate Dean for the Biomedical Sciences Cluster at RMIT and senior author of the paper, said the findings were exciting, as drug resistance is one of the biggest challenges in modern healthcare, not only in the case of malaria, but with most infectious agents, including a large number of highly pathogenic bacterial species.
“We are at risk of returning to the pre-antibiotic era if we don’t solve this resistance problem, which constitutes a clear and present danger for global public health. We need innovative ways to address this issue,” he said.
“By targeting the host and not the pathogen itself, we remove the possibility for the pathogen to rapidly become resistant by mutating the target of the drug, as the target is made by the human host and not by the pathogen.”
Doerig’s team will now collaborate with the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) to investigate potential COVID-19 treatments using this approach, supported by funding from the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund in partnership with the Bio Capital Impact Fund (BCIF).
Co-investigator on the grant, Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Dr Julian Druce, of the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) at the Doherty Institute, was part of the team that were first to grow and share the virus that causes COVID-19, and said the research was an important contribution to efforts to defeat the pandemic.
Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Professor Peter Revill, Senior Medical Scientist at the Doherty Institute and a leader on Hepatitis B research, said the approach developed by the RMIT team was truly exciting.
“This has proven successful for other human pathogens including malaria and Hepatitis C virus, and there are now very real prospects to use it to discover novel drug targets for Hepatitis B and COVID-19,” he said.
The paper is the outcome of an RMIT-led international collaboration with researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, Dr Danny Wilson (University of Adelaide’s Malaria Biology Laboratory Head, The Hospital Research Foundation Fellow and Burnet Institute), Dr Jean-Philippe Semblat (from French Government agency Inserm, Paris) and Prof Oliver Billker (Umeå University, Sweden and Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK).
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Three strange things you must know on mosquitoeson August 21, 2021 at 4:33 pm
It was only following the discovery of malaria parasites in the gut of Anopheles mosquitoes in India by Sir Ronald Ross on 20 August 1897 that a clearer picture of the role of the mosquito in the ...
- Special postal cover on scientist who discovered malaria unveiledon August 20, 2021 at 7:34 pm
The release of the postal cover that is being done to pay homage to Sir Ronald and create awareness about malaria.
- Special postal cover on malaria discoverer, Sir Ronald Ross, issuedon August 20, 2021 at 4:50 am
A special postal cover was released on Friday in commemoration of the discovery of the malarial parasite by Sir Ronald Ross in Hyderabad.
- World Mosquito Day: How A British Doctor Discovered Malaria in India's Secunderabadon August 20, 2021 at 1:41 am
British doctor Sir Ronald Ross, who was born in Almora, British India, discovered that infected mosquitoes carried malaria parasites in their digestive tract and they transmitted it to other animals.
- World Mosquito Day 2021: History, Significance and How to Prevent Malariaon August 19, 2021 at 6:30 pm
August 20 is observed as the World Mosquito Day to raise awareness about the illness and disease caused by mosquitos.
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Targeting host enzymes to fight disease
- Need for anti-viral drugs against Covidon August 15, 2021 at 7:43 pm
Covid-19 is the third viral epidemic to have come upon man since the first in 2003 and it may not be the last. Next pandemic could be more destructive and there may not be an effective vaccine to ...
- Certain intestinal bacteria induce cross-reactive IgA responses to the SARS-CoV-2 spike RBDon August 15, 2021 at 6:14 pm
p>The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is the virus responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 ... shown to protect the host against target cell infection.
- Targeting highly pathogenic coronavirus-induced apoptosis reduces viral pathogenesis and disease severityon August 8, 2021 at 5:00 pm
1 State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine ... the lung damage of SARS-CoV-2–inoculated human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) mice. Collectively, ...
- FDA approves Nexviazyme® (avalglucosidase alfa-ngpt), an important new treatment option for late-onset Pompe diseaseon August 6, 2021 at 8:45 am
Nexviazyme is an enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) designed to specifically target ... We prevent illness with vaccines, provide innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering. We stand by the ...
- New study describes SARS-CoV-2 ExoN enzyme that promotes antiviral resistanceon August 3, 2021 at 5:18 pm
A new study describes the structure of a crucial enzyme present in the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is the virus responsible for coronavirus disease 2019 ...