Choukri Ben Mamoun of Yale University in the U.S. will employ optogenetics technology to identify antimalarial compounds in the so-called Malaria Box collection that specifically target membrane biogenesis in the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which transmits the disease. Compounds targeting membrane biogenesis are known to inhibit both infection and transmission, as well as potently inhibiting drug-resistant parasites, which are becoming increasingly common. The optogenetics approach involves genetically engineering parasites to carry lipid biosensors composed of a fluorescent protein that can bind to a specific membrane phospholipid. Levels of phospholipids can then be monitored and quantified in the presence of a drug to identify those that affect membrane biogenesis.
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