By Selina Wang (MSB ’19)

As drug-resistant malarial parasites become more prevalent, the need for new drugs becomes more pressing. A team of scientists led by Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) recently received $2.1 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research mutations found within two genes in mosquito-borne protozoans.

Dr. Paul Roepe is leading the research effort. In the past, he has worked on large-scale screening to find effective antimalarial drug combinations and the fastest ways to identify highly potent and synergistic drug combinations for both treatment and prevention.

For this study, the team will be focusing on the genes PfCRT and PfMDR1, the two best understood markers for drug resistant malaria. These genes are found in Plasmodium falciparum parasites, which are responsible for 80-90% of malarial deaths. However, due to exposure to various drugs, thousands of different strains of the parasite have developed. Dr. Roepe says that he “hopes this new study will provide additional critical information for rapidly identifying the best new therapies.”

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