A drug with the potential to become a single-dose cure for all strains of malaria has been pioneered at the University of Cape Town (UCT). It has the potential to block the transmission of the parasite from person to person.
It is the result of a research collaboration between UCT's Drug Discovery and Development Centre and the Medicines for Malaria Venture, based in Switzerland
Malaria accounts for 24% of total child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. It is transmitted by infected mosquitoes- and children and pregnant women are most susceptible to it.
According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 300 million acute cases of malaria each year globally. "This is truly a proud day for African science and African scientists. Our team is hopeful that the compound will emerge from rigorous testing as an extremely effective medicine for malaria," says Professor Kelly Chibale.
It's been hailed as evidence that South Africa is pioneering advancements in the medical field. The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor says: "This is a significant victory in the battle to alleviate the burden of disease in the subcontinent. Clearly the war on this disease is not yet won, but I am excited by the role that our excellent scientists have played in this milestone in finding a potential cure for malaria and possibly preventing its transmission."
Scientists say this potent drug cured animals infected with malaria parasites with only a single dose. It will however take several years before the drug is finally on the shelves. For now, its back to the lab for intensive testing.