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Scots scientists in breakthrough to find antimalarial drug

Scientists have discovered an "exciting" compound that could be developed into a new antimalarial drug.

The find was made by a team at the University of Dundee's Drug Discovery Unit, which has been working with non-profit foundation Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) to find new treatments.

It is hoped the compound could begin human clinical trials in the next 18 months after it was recommended for development by MMV's expert scientific advisory committee.

There are estimated to be more than 200 million cases of malaria worldwide each year, resulting in about 627,000 deaths, mostly among children under five.

Scientists say there is an urgent need for new, effective and affordable drugs as the parasite that causes malaria is developing resistance to current medicines.

Professor Ian Gilbert, chairman of medicinal chemistry at the university and one of the project leaders, said: "This compound has impressive antimalarial properties. It has potential for a single dose treatment of malaria.

"It also has the possibility to protect people from getting malaria in the first place and in stopping malaria being spread from infected people to others (a feature known as transmission-blocking)."

Co-project leader Dr Kevin Read said: "We are very excited by this compound which belongs to a different chemical class to current antimalarial drugs.

"This compound will now undergo scale-up and further safety testing with a view to it entering human clinical trials within the next 18 months."

Dr Paul Willis, one of MMV's drug discovery project directors, said: "Identifying a compound like this is no small feat.

"It's a great achievement, particularly given the exciting properties of the compound, which give it potential for use in the treatment, prevention and transmission-blocking of malaria."

Contextual targeting label: 
Drugs

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