Drug Screen for Anti-Malarial and Anti-Parasitic Drugs

Ref: 11066
A new phylum of easily cultured algae that can be used to develop and screen drugs that target apicoplasts, a known target for antiparasitic drugs.

Key advantages
  • Low cost, easily cultured & non-toxic
  • Does not involve live malaria strains
  • Does not involve radio-isotopes


Apicomplexans are a group of devastating parasitic organisms that include Cryptosporidium, Toxoplasma and Plasmodium, the agent of malaria.

These parasites contain an apicoplast - a tiny relic of what was once a chloroplast - which is a known target for anti-parasitic drugs.

Current drug development for the treatment of these parasites has been hampered by the small size of the apicoplast and by difficulties in keeping malaria parasites in culture.

The invention

Chromera Cells

Chromera Cells

Chromerida is a new phylum of algae that that has been identified from a temperate coral in Sydney harbour.

Molecular analysis has revealed it to be the closest known relative to apicomplexans, a parasitic lineage that includes the agents of malaria and toxoplasma.

Chromerids have a large, functional photosynthetic plastid which is closely related to the malarial apicoplast - a known target for antiparasitic drugs.

Given that Chromerids are easy to grow and maintain in culture, cultured Chromerida and the chromerid plastids present a novel solution to existing difficulties in developing and screening anti-parasitic drugs.


Chromerida plastids can be used to find anti-apicoplast targets, and cultured Chromerida can be used in high-throughput protocols to prescreen anti-parasitic drug candidates.

Principal inventors

  • Dr. Dee Carter
  • Dr. Jan Slapeta
  • Dr. Robert Moore