HERSTON, Australia, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Australian researchers said a new study shows that a class of AIDS drugs known as protease inhibitors also inhibits a pathogen that causes malaria.
The finding suggests the AIDS drugs could also be used to treat or prevent malaria, which has particular significance for developing regions of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, where there are high rates of people infected with both HIV and malaria.
In a laboratory study, protease inhibitors inhibited the growth of P. falciparum, a parasite that causes most cases of malaria, scientists from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research report in the Dec. 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The line of P. falciparum used in the study was known to be resistant to anti-malarial drugs, so the researchers think the inhibitory effects seen with the AIDS drugs suggest they are attacking the malaria parasite in a novel way that could lead to a new class of medications to treat malaria infection.
The scientists caution, however, that further studies need to be carried out to determine whether the AIDS drugs are safe and effective for treating and preventing malaria in human patients.