Researchers have taken snapshots of the ever-changing protein profile of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Their findings may help identify new drug targets for the disease, which kills 3,000 children a day, mainly in Africa.
Elizabeth Winzeler of the Scripps Research Institute in California and colleagues devised a new technique to record the activity of genes at different stages in the parasite's lifecycle. They then inferred the probable functions of unknown genes from the timing and activity of known ones.
There are about 5,300 genes in the malaria parasite's genome, but only a third of these encode proteins with known functions. The new research – published in this week's Science Express – gives clues to the function of a further 1,000 possible proteins.