Scientists develop new drug treatment for malaria

Aug 16, 2010

As part of the £1.5 million project, researchers are now testing the drug to determine how the treatment could progress to clinical trials. The drug is made from simple organic molecules and will be cheaper to mass produce compared to existing therapies.

Malaria is the world's most deadly , resulting in nearly one million deaths a year. The team at Liverpool have created a synthetic based on the chemical structure of , an extract of a Chinese herb commonly used in malaria treatment. The new drug, which can be taken orally, is more potent than naturally derived artemisinin.

Artemisinin is known to interact with a substance inside parasite-infected red blood cells, causing a chain of events that destroys malaria. The treatment, however, is difficult to mass produce and can be chemically unstable in the body. Scientists have now found a way of creating the most reactive part of artemisinin synthetically and fusing it with a cage-like structure made of to make the drug more chemically stable. The stability of the chemical structure in the body makes the drug last longer, reducing the chance of the parasite reappearing.

Professor Paul O'Neill, from the University's Department of Chemistry, explains: " affects the world's poorest countries and hospitals are unable to afford expensive treatments. The problem with current artemisinin-based therapies is their limited availability, poor oral absorption and high cost. We have created a new drug that is easily absorbed by the body, chemically stable and highly potent. It is made from very simple organic materials and therefore will be more cost-effective to mass produce than current therapies."

Explore further: Measles off to a fast start, as US cases trend up

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Antimalarial drug artemisinin moves into production

Jul 12, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A semi-synthetic version of the antimalarial drug artemisinin developed by UC Berkeley's Jay Keasling is moving out of development into full-scale production, helped along by a $10.7 million grant from the ...

Rectal artemisinins rapidly eliminate malarial parasites

Mar 28, 2008

Artemisinin-based suppositories can help ‘buy time’ for malaria patients who face a delay in accessing effective, injectable antimalarials, according to research published in the online open access journal BMC Infectious Di ...

Recommended for you

Saudi Arabia reports pilgrim infected with MERS

2 hours ago

In the past 24 hours, Saudi Arabia has reported four new deaths from a Middle East virus related to SARS and 36 more cases of infection, including a Turkish pilgrim in Mecca.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Autism Genome Project delivers genetic discovery

A new study from investigators with the Autism Genome Project, the world's largest research project on identifying genes associated with risk for autism, has found that the comprehensive use of copy number variant (CNV) genetic ...

Team reprograms blood cells into blood stem cells in mice

Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have reprogrammed mature blood cells from mice into blood-forming hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), using a cocktail of eight genetic switches called transcription factors. The reprogrammed ...

Study links California drought to global warming

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...