Malaria, a disease caused by the unicellular parasites of the genus Plasmodium, is a leading cause of illness and death throughout the tropical regions of the world. Many of the deaths are in children and pregnant women. There is now a renewed emphasis on combating this disease. To accomplish this we need novel strategies to combat all lifecycle stages of the parasite within the human host. One area that has been under-developed is the identification of transmission blocking drugs due to technical issues involved in the identification of the transmission stage of the parasite the gametocyte. We have developed a novel assay system that will now allows us to easily identify the malaria gametocyte and for the first time perform high-throughput screens of drug and chemical libraries that should identify new and novel transmission blocking drugs.
The identification of new and novel chemotherapeutic agents against all lifecycle stages of the deadly malaria parasite are needed if we are to eradicate this disease, which kills at least one million people every year, predominately children under five and pregnant women.