In a breakthrough study, researchers including a person of Indian origin, have disabled a unique member of the signalling proteins, which are essential for the development of the malaria parasite.
They have produced a mutant lacking the ancient bacterial Shewanella-like protein phosphatase known as SHLP1 (pronounced 'shelph'). This mutant is unable to complete its complex life cycle and is arrested in its development in the mosquito.
The finding could help in the design of new drugs to arrest the spread of this killer disease.
SHLP1 is critical to the cellular development of the malaria parasite. It can be found at every stage in the lifecycle of the malaria parasite and for the first time experts led by The University of Nottingham have analysed their biological function.
Dr Rita Tewari and her team at the Centre for Genetics and Genomics in the School of Biology have spent three years studying the phosphatase proteins that are important building blocks in the life cycle.