A drug that effectively treats malaria and can help fight strains of the fatal infection has been developed by scientists. The infections are resistant to present treatments. But, researchers from Tulane University in the US conducted a positive trial of the drug, called AQ-13, on human patients.
The results were published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. It is significant as public health experts have long cautioned that the parasite accountable for most malaria cases, Plasmodium falciparum, is developing drug resistance.
“The clinical trial results are extraordinarily encouraging,” said Donald Krogstad, professor at Tulane University. “Compared to the current first-line recommendation for treatment of malaria, the new drug comes out very well,” said Krogstad. The drug was able to treat the parasite responsible for the disease within a week.
Mosquitoes infected by parasite spread malaria, causing over 200 million illnesses across the globe. It also triggers over 400,000 deaths annually. For years, chloroquine was used to treat malaria until Plasmodium falciparum developed resistance. Now, a drug combination, artemether and lumefantrine, is the prime treatment for malaria even though resistance is also developing to the drug combination.