Planting the Seeds of New Antimalarial Drugs

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Science  03 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5433, pp. 1502-1503
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5433.1502

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The most lethal form of malaria is caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which has become increasingly resistant to existing drugs. New antimalarial compounds are therefore desperately needed to halt the several million deaths that occur each year from malaria. Robert Ridley of the World Health Organization discusses the finding of a new metabolic pathway for synthesizing isoprenoids (such as cholesterol) in P. falciparum. This pathway is found in plants and bacteria but not in animals and thus its enzymes should prove valuable targets for the development of antimalarial drugs.