Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Anti-Cancer Drug Helps Malaria

Researchers at the Australian National University have helped find a new way to make anti-malaria drugs more effective by combining them with a low dose of a class of anti-cancer drug known as proteasome inhibitors.

Malaria kills more than 500,000 people every year and the malaria parasite is becoming increasingly resistant to medication.

Prof Simon Foote and Dr Gaetan Burgio were part of an international team that discovered how the malaria parasite develops resistance to artemisinins, which are the last line in antimalarial medications.

“We show that proteasome inhibitors strongly synergise artemisinin activity, offering a means of overcoming artemisinin resistance,” the researchers reported in PLOS Biology.

“This discovery has shown that a combination therapy with a low dose of anti-cancer drug and the last-line antimalarial drug can disable the parasite’s defences. This offers a new avenue to combat antimalarial resistance,” Burgio said.