A new study was published in Nature journal on the discovery of a compound that is so efficient that a single $1 dose may treat malaria and offer protection against further infection at the same time.
Researchers are positive that just one dose of the potential treatment might be enough to fight malaria infections in patients. Even more so, it can help the patients increase their immunity so they won’t be affected by the parasite again.
Lead researcher Kevin Read of the University of Dundee’s Drug Discovery Unit in the United Kingdom is hopeful their team will begin clinical trials of the compound within a year. Because these might take a while to prove the treatments’ success, the drug would only reach the pharmacist’s counter in another five to six years.
Read explained the compound disrupts the parasite’s process of synthesizing protein, no matter at what stages of life cycle the parasite is. Because the drug has the ability of remaining active in the body longer than other treatments, it can also become a preventing tool in protecting healthy people from contracting the illness.
A recent World Health Organization report showed that malaria is responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people each year; sadly, most of these victims are children under five years old. But this figure was doubled back in 2000, and medical research and prevention methods are the ones responsible for the drop.
The new challenge is fighting drug-resistant parasites, which seem to emerge in higher numbers than ever, pressing for innovative treatments that can continue to keep lowering the death rates.
The compound was discovered in 2010 in a study part of the Medicines for Malaria Venture. Since then, the DDD107498, as it was dubbed, has been a test subject along with dozens of other potential antimalarial compounds. The Malaria Venture represents a public-private collaboration in which the University of Dundee is also involved.
Read commented the DDD107498 is undergoing its final steps of preclinical safety testing, hoping that it will eventually be used as an antimalarial treatment fighting drug-resistant parasites.
One of the most important aspects of this compound is that it’s fairly easy to make, which means that the final product will not be as expensive as one would expect: merely $1 for a dose.
Malaria is one of the most difficult diseases to treat because the parasite causing it has a very complex life cycle; a drug that would be efficient in one stage, might be rendered useless in other.
However, the current chemical compound is expected to interact with many of the different stages, which is exactly what the drug industry needs right now. Bottom line is that preliminary work has shown promise for an end product, which will take some time to be perfected.
Image Source: Discover Magazine