Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Scientists Find ‘Breakthrough’ Drug On Malaria

An announcement by the University of Cape Town that it has discovered a compound with potential for curing all strains of malaria has set the scientific world abuzz.
Though clinical trials on humans have not yet taken place, the development is being hailed as “a proud day for African science”.
A safe, effective oral cure for malaria, with no side effects! Even better, it may block transmission of the malaria parasite from person to person. It sounds too good to be true. But this is precisely what is envisaged by a Swiss-South African research team, which announced it has found a synthetic molecule that has the potential to become a single-dose cure for malaria.
According to head of Medecins Sans Frontieres, South African Medical Unit, Dr Tom Ellman: “A child dies every 46 seconds from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, and 90 per cent of malaria deaths take place in sub-Saharan Africa.”
It is estimated that African economies lose up to $12b per year directly related to malaria and its impact on productivity. So, it’s a massive problem for the region, and we are desperately in need of more effective responses.”
The breakthrough has come from collaboration between Switzerland’s Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3-D) at the University of Cape Town, led by Professor Kelly Chibale. Ellman said public-private partnerships of this kind might increasingly be the key to tackling the so-called “neglected diseases”.
The compound, from the aminopyridine class, was code-named MMV390048, a label which will presumably have to be sexed-up if it goes into commercial development. It was first identified in 2010 and tested in animals in early 2011. The results were extremely encouraging: animals infected with malaria parasites were completely cured after being administered a low oral dose. The drug also remained in the animals for a long time, which is important because it prevents any re-growth of the parasite.
The compound has also been hailed as “outstanding” for two further reasons. Firstly, it involves only a single dose, whereas other currently available clinical drugs require at least four daily doses.
Secondly, it was tested against a number of different drug-resistant strains from both Africa and Asia and proved effective against them all.
Ellman said his initial impression of the development was that it seemed “very safe, highly effective and very interestingly attacks a number of parts of the parasite pathway, meaning it can both cure the disease and eradicate the infection.

Sth African Researchers May Have Found A Single Dose Cure For Malaria

About half the world’s population lives in areas at risk of malaria transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now that the University of Cape Town Science Department thinks they have found a single dose cure for the deadly disease, that number may become much smaller in coming years.
According to National Geographic, the new treatment kills the parasite instantly and is expected to be safe and effective. It has been tested on animals and has resulted a complete cure with just a single dose. Clinical trials will end in 2013 and if effective on humans, has the potential to save millions of lives. Twenty-four percent of child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa alone are due to Malaria.
African regions are clearly the main target for this, but if the cure works well, it also has the potential to cut healthcare expenses around the world from treating those that have been infected while on vacation or doing work overseas.
The South African Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor spoke with National Geographic on the revolutionary breakthrough:
“This is a powerful demonstration of how much can be accomplished when open-minded researchers come together for the sake of the greater good of humanity. The discovery that we announce today is a significant victory in the battle to alleviate the burden of disease in Africa. Clearly the war on disease is not yet won, but I am excited by the role that our excellent scientists have played in finding a potential single-dose cure for malaria and possibly preventing its transmission.”
In 2008, it is estimated that malaria caused 190-311 million clinical episodes and 708,000 – 1,003,000 deaths worldwide. There is no telling what a cure like this could do for the welfare of people all around the world.

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