A drug with the potential to become a single-dose cure for all strains of malaria has been named at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Science and Technology Ministerannounced the discovery of a compound, which will be the first clinical candidate researched in Africa, on Tuesday.
The compound from the aminopyridine class, code named MMV390048, shows potent activity against all strains of malaria at multiple points in the malaria parasite's lifecycle but might also be able to block transmission from person to person, a joint research collaboration between UCT's Drug Discovery and Development Centre and the Medicines for Malaria Venture, based in Switzerland
Professor Kelly Chibale, lead researcher of the collaborative research project, said while the molecule had not been tested on humans yet, animal studies had shown “potent activity against multiple points in the malaria parasite’s lifecycle”.'
Chibale said while the malaria parasite was sometimes resistant to conventional multidrug malaria treatment, initial results of the 18-month research showed the molecule had killed the resistant parasites instantly. Animal tests also showed that it was not only safe and effective, but there were no adverse reported side effects.
Other recent progress in African malaria treatment is an experimental vaccine produced by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. This vaccine is said to give 56% protection against infection and is financed by the Gates Foundation.
Malaria is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, with children and pregnant women being the most susceptible to it.
According to the World Health Organization, half the world’s population, approximately 3.3 billion people are at risk from malaria, a mosquito-borne infectious disease which in 2010 alone caused an estimated 655,000 deaths around the world.