A Germany-based Indian-origin scientist, Dr. Prajwal Nandedkar has proffered optimism for more effective malaria therapy by identifying the cause behind the faster movement of the malaria-causing parasite in humans.

The Indian-origin scientist joined Dr Ross Douglas and other team members for a new collaborative study by scientists from the Center for Molecular Biology (ZMBH) and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) and Heidelberg University Clinic in Germany to conclude that the actin protein is an important factor for the faster movement of malaria-causing parasite.

The Indian-origin scientist is a specialist in computer-aided drug discovery techniques, is currently working as a scientist at the University of Heidelberg. He and his team of scientists have now discovered the reason for the faster movement of these parasites by studying the actin protein. In the latest research, partly funded by the Heidelberg University Frontiers funds, made successful use of a high-performance supercomputer facility at HITS and Heidelberg University. The team’s research paper on the subject, published in ‘PLoS Biology’ journal, explains that the speed of the malaria parasite is 10 times faster than the fastest human immune cells. As a result, it is very difficult for human immune cells to catch and kill these fast-moving parasites. According to the researcher, “if scientists understand the movement of malaria parasites and the differences between human and parasite actin protein, it is possible to target the actin filaments and make the parasite stop. This research opens up a new dimension for anti-malarial drug design and gave us a hope for the new anti-malarial drugs”. Importantly, these findings could now be used to discover chemical compounds that selectively target parasite actin and affect either the building or breakdown of the filament.

Malaria is a serious disease, which has caused nearly 400,000 deaths globally and in India and infected 1.3 million people.

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