Malaria hijacks your genes to invade your liver

In the search for new weapons against malaria, most drug development has focused on the parasites that cause the disease. Duke University researchers are trying a different tack, instead of targeting the malaria parasite directly, the idea is to discover drugs aimed at the human cell machinery conscripted to do malaria's dirty work. In a new study, a team led by assistant professor of chemistry Emily Derbyshire has identified more than 100 human genes that malaria parasites commandeer to take up residence inside their victim's liver during the 'silent' earlier stages of infection, before symptoms appear. For this study, researchers used snippets of silencing RNA to trick human liver cells into tamping down each of roughly 7,000 protein-coding genes. Then they infected the liver cells with a mouse malaria parasite similar to the Plasmodium species that causes human malaria.