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Scientists Discover New Anti-Malaria Compound, Hopeful It Can Lead to a Cure

The ongoing battle against Malaria continues, but scientists are getting closer to a potential cure.


According to Quartz, scientists at the University of Cape Town’s Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D), along with the help of Medicines for Malaria Venture, have discovered a new anti-malaria compound. This has “the potential for both treatment and prevention of malaria,” said H3D researches.


The compound, known as UCT943, is currently being developed in labs. H3D drug center selected the MMV390048 compound for assessment in 2012, but researchers believe that this new discovery may be more effective against the malaria parasite, as well as being easier to produce.


Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine reports that since 2000, the rate of malaria infections across Africa have been cut in half. Efforts to fight this disease have certainly increased, but there is still a long way to go. H3D researchers hope this new compound can speed up the process and eventually lead to a cure.


“It is very important to build a pipeline of candidate drugs, as there are no guarantees,” said Kelly Chibale, H3D director. “Even if MMV390048 makes it [onto the market], it is only a matter of time before resistance develops, and we will need backups.”


Business Day Live reports that the preclinical assessment of the new compound — UCT943 — would take about 18 months. After that, the next stage would be a phase 1 clinical trial.


Having these two compounds in the works provides plenty of optimism around the health industry. Even if these two aren’t going to completely solve the problem, this research could soon lead to it.


“Delivering two preclinical candidates within five years is an outstanding record by international standards, especially for a drug discovery centre at an academic institution,” said Max Price, University of Cape Town vice-chancellor. “The value of a second candidate signals that the first compound was not a one-off, but part of a sustained and systematic programme.”




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