“HSP90”- New molecule discovered to kill malaria parasite without harming human red blood cells

The researchers from the University of Geneva discovered a new molecule HSP90 (Heat Shock Protein 90) that could be effective for the treatment of malaria. HSP90 has the potential to kill malaria parasite without harming human red blood cells.
Malaria is a life-threatening blood disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted to humans by the Anopheles mosquito. It is preventable and treatable disease.

  • Parasite species that cause malaria in humans: Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax.
  • The most severe form of malaria is caused by infection with Plasmodium falciparum. The eradication of this parasite is even more difficult as it becomes resistant to treatments.

 About the newly-discovered molecule “HSP90” (Heat Shock Protein 90)

  • Led by Didier Picard from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland.
  • Purpose: To determine if there was a difference between the human form and the parasitic form of HSP90 that could exploit for therapeutic purposes.
  • Used ultra-sophisticated computerized modelling tools to characterise the various tri-dimensional conformations of the parasite’s HSP90.
  • A chaperone protein that assists other proteins to fold properly, stabilizes proteins against heat stress and aids in protein degradation.
  • Stabilizes a number of proteins required for tumor growth (that’s why, Hsp90 inhibitors are investigated as anti-cancer drugs).
  • Plays a central role for several factors involved in the life cycle, survival and resistance of the pathogen.
  • Participates in the maturation of the pathogen in human red blood cells.
  • During high fever protects parasitic proteins in the plasmodium.
  • Capable of binding inhibitory substances, completely absent in its human alter ego.
  • Capable to kill the parasites viz. Plasmodium falciparum, etc, without affecting the infected red blood cells.

Note: The study published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.