Malaria deaths are rising, in part because the parasites which cause the disease are evolving resistance to our frontline drug treatments. Merryn Fraser argues that we need new ways to target these parasites and suggests taking advantage of essential biological pathways to deliver drugs directly to parasites, improving existing antimalarial drugs and helping to overcome drug resistance.
Merryn is a parasitologist working at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. She works primarily with the Plasmodium parasite, which causes malaria. Her PhD thesis, submitted under a cotutelle agreement to ANU and Humboldt University Berlin, focuses on parasite lipid metabolism, investigating how to fight malaria with fat! Merryn is interested in how parasites affect a host, and how the host affects parasites. She uses molecular and cell biology to study membranes in malaria, building a dynamic picture of the movement of molecules. Her work has identified areas of lipid metabolism that could be exploited for drug intervention strategies to reduce the burden of malaria.