Researchers have identified a region on a chromosome in Plasmodium falciparum—a major malaria parasite—that helps to explain how the parasite developed resistance to the best known anti-malarial treatments in Southeast Asia.
By returning to traditional screening methods, researchers have identified an effective anti-malarial drug candidate, known as NITD609, which seems to kill the blood stages of the two major malaria parasites when administered orally, just once a day. This discovery is especially timely since researchers in Asia have begun to report a building resistance to artemisinin, the main ingredient in current malaria treatments for about 100 million patients each year.
People at high risk for malaria may benefit from swallowing a cocktail of antibiotics as a preventative measure, a new Science Translational Medicine study in mice suggests. The drugs may evoke natural immunity to malaria parasites in healthy but vulnerable populations, providing lifelong protection against future malaria infections.