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Impactful malaria science, and the trailblazers leading the fight. A podcast from the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute.

Oct 29, 2021

New research into the role and function of the apicoplast, a plant-like structure within the malaria parasite, has changed scientists’ perceptions of how the parasite survives.


The apicoplast, a plant-like structure within Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites, has long been thought to have one essential function in blood-stage parasites: to produce isoprenoids, chemical building blocks essential for parasite survival. But it’s now been found that the apicoplast also produces a metabolite called Co-A, and that this product is also required for parasite survival. Interestingly, when the apicoplast is targeted by existing antimalarial drugs, it fragments into vesicles, but these remnant vesicles still produce Co-A. So, when you disrupt the apicoplast, you don’t inactivate all of its metabolic pathways, as was previously believed. This new insight into the complexity of the apicoplast – and its enduring activity even when disrupted - has changed scientists’ perception of the organelle and could inform new drug development strategies.


Dephospho-CoA kinase, a nuclear-encoded apicoplast protein, remains active and essential after Plasmodium falciparum apicoplast disruption

About The Podcast

The Johns Hopkins Malaria Minute podcast is produced by the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute to highlight impactful malaria research and to share it with the global community.