Targeting host cell factors as a novel anti-malarial strategy

Malaria causes a significant health burden worldwide. An efficient vaccine has yet to be developed but a handful of treatment options exist. However, resistant parasites have emerged against all available anti-malarial drugs, including against the front-line treatment Artemisinin.
Anti-malarial resistance has develop because all anti-malarial drugs target parasite essential mechanisms, which allowed resistant parasites to emerge.
To address the critical need for new drugs to prevent and/or treat malaria, robust anti-malarial drugs that minimize the development of drug-resistant parasites are needed.
In our team, we explore the contributions of host red blood cell factors to the development of P. falciparum malaria parasites during their erythrocytic stages. We have evidence that cytosolic red blood cell host proteins are modified upon P. falciparum infection and that targeting these host molecules impairs parasite development.
Targeting host cell factors to block parasite development is an innovative strategy less likely to lead to parasite resistance, which further provides great opportunities for drug repurposing