Scientists are reporting development of a new malaria drug that, in laboratory tests, has been twice as effective as the best current medicine against this global scourge and may fight off the disease with one dose, instead of the multiple doses that people often fail to take. A report on the drug appears in ACS' Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
Gary Posner and colleagues explain that malaria continues to kill almost 1 million people annually. The best existing treatment is so-called artemisinin combination therapy (ACT). It requires patients to take pills every day for several days, and many patients fail to complete the regimen. As a result, these patients don't get better, and it opens the door for malaria parasites to develop resistance to ACT. To stop that from happening, the researchers developed a new type of ACT that could stop malaria in a single dose.
They describe a series of new compounds they developed that, given once, are more effective than traditional artemisinin-derived substances. One of the new compounds, when combined with mefloquine, killed off all of the parasites in some mice with just a single oral dose and allowed those mice to live almost twice as long as those treated with conventional ACT.