Molecular Parasitology Lab

Novel Findings



Prof. Namita Surolia has made several outstanding contributions to the biology and biochemistry of Plasmodium falciparum, which causes the most fatal form of malaria in human beings. The contributions have not only led to shattering of widely held views of parasite metabolic pathways (Heme, Protein and Fatty acid biosynthesis) but also paved the way for the development of novel approaches for treating malaria. A unique feature of her contributions has been their total indigenous origins which has set the pace in the field of malaria research internationally.

She discovered the existence of the de novo fatty acid synthesis pathway in the malarial parasite. She has also demonstrated it to be different (dissociative viz. type II FAS) from that of the human host (associative viz. type I FAS) [Nature Medicine 7, 167-173 (2001)]. Owing to the differences between the organization of FAS in the parasite and its human host it constitutes an attractive target for the development of novel anti-malarials. Importantly, she identified Triclosan, a widely used antibacterial agent to compromise the growth of the parasite by inhibiting its enoyl-ACP reductase (FabI/ ENR). This discovery has brought paradigm shift in anti-malarial drug development and has been widely acclaimed world wide.

That this string of findings is highly regarded in malaria research, and has spawned a fiercely competitive research subactivity in her field, is obvious from the highly cited nature of her research Her above–mentioned paper, in Nature Medicine for example, has been cited 180 times and has been quoted by Thomson scientific as the top 1 percentile of cited papers in her field.

Her recent work on blocking trafficking of Nuclear Encoded Apicoplast Targeted proteins (NEAT) by Deoxyspergualin is again a milestone, as this is the first demonstration of its kind identifying trafficking of the NEAT proteins as a potential target for developing therapeutics [J Biol Chem.; 282(9):6388-97 (2007)]; This paper has been selected by FACULTY OF 1000 as one of the 100 most important articles in biology and medicine.

She also elucidated the mode of action of widely used antimalarial chloroquine (CQ) by demonstrating that the antimalarial exerts its effect by sequestering heme resulting into parasite death. Her subsequent discovery of heme biosynthesis pathway in the parasite was again far ahead of its time is now being pursued intensively as a target for antimalarial development by a number of groups.)


   Last modified date: 01-06-2010