New research led by scientists at the RMIT University has thrown new light on the aspects of the treatment of COVID-19. The research breakthrough in malaria has prompted scientists to think that vaccines or drugs should target the enzymes of the human host cells rather than the pathogens. The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications.
According to the research led by Dr. Christian Doerig, RMIT University, the pathogen that causes malaria, Plasmodium falciparum largely depends on the enzymes of the human host cells. These enzymes are present in the red blood cells of humans. This is the site where the malaria causing pathogen dodges the immune response of the host and spreads in the entire body.
Dr. Christian Doerig said, “Evidence is emerging that signal transduction elements are activated in a-nucleated erythrocytes in response to infection with malaria parasites, but the extent of this phenomenon remains unknown. Here, we fill this knowledge gap through a comprehensive and dynamic assessment of host erythrocyte signaling during infection with Plasmodium falciparum.”
According to the researchers, a cost-effective coronavirus vaccine can be developed if scientists target the reliance of the parasites on human hosts. Dr. Jack Adderly, the co-author of the research, said, “The host enzymes are in many instances the same as those activated in cancer cells, so we can now jump on the back of existing cancer drug discovery and look to re-purpose a drug that is already available or close to completion of the drug development.”
Dr. Doerig added, “We are at risk of returning to the pre-antibiotic era if we don’t solve the resistance problem which constitutes a clear and present danger for global public health. We need innovative ways to address the issue. By targeting the host and not the pathogen itself, we remove the possibility for the pathogen to rapidly become resistant by mutating the target of the drug, as the target is made by the human host, and not the pathogen.”
The RMIT University research team is all set to work further on this topic with the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity to study this approach for the potential treatment of COVID-19.