On the Way to Cure Malaria

2009/09/22
By Student

This post was originally published on February 24, 2009.

by Jennifer

Lyrics:
People get malaria when they’re bit by a mosquito
It’s taking lives like a torpedo
Every year one million die worldwide
But you can prevent it with insecticide

Maybe a breakthrough cure for malaria
To starve the parasite was their idea

Every thirty seconds a child dies
Without treatment, it’s no surprise
A family in Africa could be saved by a bug net
Too bad they can’t afford one yet

This treatment fights the drug-resistant kind
Hopefully we can put malaria out of mind

I wish this cure will help people everywhere
I want it to end their nightmare

Photo by Kozzman

Photo by Kozzman

Malaria is a parasitical disease caused by being bitten by a mosquito. Every year 300-500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide, with over one million dying from it, mostly in Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Every thirty seconds, a child dies from the disease. It can be prevented, with the use of bednets, insecticides, and antimalarial drugs. People with malaria often have flu-like symptoms, fever, and chills. If it goes untreated, you can develop severe complications and die.

The parasite that causes malaria is called Plasmodium. When inside the body, the parasite multiplies in the liver and then infects red blood cells. The symptoms usually appear ten to fifteen days after being bitten by the mosquito. If it is not treated, malaria can soon become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs. Malaria has become drug-resistant to lots of medicines in many parts of the world, similar to the drug-resistant tuberculosis that we discussed in class.

Recently, a team of researchers at Monash University made a major breakthrough in the international fight against malaria. They tackled the issue of drug-resistant malaria, a growing problem. “We had an idea as to how malaria could be starved and we have shown this, chemically, can be done,” Dr McGowan, lead author of the research paper, said. “A single bite from an infected mosquito can transfer the malaria parasite into a human’s blood stream. The malaria parasite must then break down blood proteins in order to obtain nutrients. Malaria carries out the first stages of digestion inside a specialized compartment called the digestive vacuole – this can be considered to be like a stomach. However, the enzyme we have studied (known as PfA-M1), which is essential for parasite viability, is located outside the digestive vacuole meaning that it is easier to target from a drug perspective.” A drug candidate which hopes to provide a single-dose cure is now being developed.

Here is a video from Unicef about malaria in Africa and how it can be prevented.

Do you think that this new drug will cure malaria? What else can you find out about malaria?

  • Ms Baker

    The comments to this post were sadly deleted accidentally and are in the process of (hopefully) being recovered. Among the original comments were a few remarks left by the researchers Jennifer blogged about in her post!

    But, until that happens, please check out the awesome blog responses to the post that can be found here:

    Malaria and World Public Health: Jennifer in science and song, Terra Sigillata

    A Synthesis of Art and Science, Nashworld

  • Jong

    I think that the new drug of malaria might be able to fight back the disease a little, but it might not be able to completely cure the disease because it seems hard to “starve” the infection by not allowing it to obtain nutrients. The infection could get the nutrients from almost anywhere in the body, which means the whole body would might have to not have nutrients anymore.

    I can find out more about malaria in wikipedia, or other scientific websites like http://www.cdc.gov/Malaria/. But this cure seems new, so I’m not very sure if a website would have the information to this cure.

  • briana c.

    Hey Jennifer,
    first off great blog, i really enjoyed reading about malaria, it even inspired me to look up more about the history of mosquitos and malaria.
    Did you know that it is thought that mosquitos are originally from Africa. Another discovery was that scientists have uncovered fossils from 30 million years ago that contain proof of malaria mosquitos. Also they have found what they believe to be evidence of the first treatments of malaria in Peru in the early 1600′s. More so malaria was originally called “agues” and their attempt at curing and/or treating this agues was through an English tree bark, given the nickname “Jesuits powder”.

    Alphonse Laveran was one of the original scientists who began researching the causes, effects, and cures of malaria, at a military hospital in Algeria. He was initially responsible for explaining the black pigment found in the blood of the people who suffered from malaria. These particles were called melanins and there

  • kailani

    i think that the drug might help but than agian thier is human error and it might just worson it but either way they should just buy millions of nets for africa i mean thier only like $3 for just one and are probably only maid from 3 cents

  • Matt C.

    I think that this new drug might change the numbers of people infected by malaria, but in Africa there is just too many people being infected. It will be too hard to spread the drug to everyone! Also I found an article on Science Daily about a newer drug coming out about malaria. If you would like to check it out here is the link http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100111154920.htm

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