Severe forms of malaria such as Plasmodium falciparum may be deadly even after treatment with current parasite-killing drugs. This is due to persistent cyto-adhesion of infected erythrocytes even though existing parasites within the red blood cells are dead.
As vaccines for malaria have proved less than moderately effective, and to treat these severe cases of P. falciparum malaria, new avenues are urgently needed. Latest estimates indicate that more than 500 million cases of malaria and more than 400,000 deaths are reported worldwide each year. Anti-adhesion drugs may hold the key to significantly improving survival rates.