A compound that detectives spray at crime scenes to find traces of blood may be used one day to kill the malaria parasite, says a new study. The compound called “luminol” glows blue when it encounters hemoglobin in red blood cells.
Researchers found that the compound can be used to trigger amino acid present in hemoglobin to kill the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in red blood cells.
“The light that luminol emits is enhanced by the anti-malarial drug artemisinin,” said senior author Daniel Goldberg, Professor of medicine and molecular microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, US. Further he said that these agents could be combined to form an innovative treatment for malaria.
The new therapy may have an advantage over current malaria treatments, which have become less effective as the parasite mutates. This approach targets proteins made by human red blood cells, which the parasite cannot mutate.
The researchers worked with human red blood cells infected with the malaria parasite.
Mr. Goldberg speculated that “ All of these agents- the amino acid, the luminol and artemisinin have been cleared for use in humans individually, so we are optimistic that they won’t present any safety problems together”.
“ This could be a promising new treatment for a devastating disease,” he noted.