Malaria is the scourge of tropical nations, crippling its victims with symptoms like debilitating fever, convulsions and nausea, and killing half a million people annually. Now researchers in South Africa say they may have a one-size-fits-all solution, in the form of a new drug that could work with just one dose.
The drug is a synthetic molecule in a class of compounds known as aminopyridines, which are precursors to many drugs for neurological disorders. Scientists at Australia's Griffith University were screening more than 6 million drug compounds and suggested aminopyridine for further study. Then a team of scientists led by Kelly Chibale at the University of Cape Town tested several of these compounds, settling on a suitable molecule that will now be tested further.
Most cases of malaria in Africa are caused by a parasite called Plasmodium falciparum, which lives in the salivary glands of female mosquitoes and is transferred into the human bloodstream when the bug bites.