August 16, 2010
Scientists Develop New Drug Treatment For Malaria
As part of the £1.5 million project, researchers are now testing the drug to determine how the treatment could progress to clinical trials. The drug is made from simple organic molecules and will be cheaper to mass produce compared to existing therapies.
Malaria is the world's most deadly parasitic infection, resulting in nearly one million deaths a year. The team at Liverpool have created a synthetic drug based on the chemical structure of artemisinin, an extract of a Chinese herb commonly used in malaria treatment. The new drug, which can be taken orally, is more potent than naturally derived artemisinin.
Professor Paul O'Neill, from the University's Department of Chemistry, explains: "Malaria affects the world's poorest countries and hospitals are unable to afford expensive treatments. The problem with current artemisinin-based therapies is their limited availability, poor oral absorption and high cost. We have created a new drug that is easily absorbed by the body, chemically stable and highly potent. It is made from very simple organic materials and therefore will be more cost-effective to mass produce than current therapies."
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