Scientists identify new weapon against malaria
University of Cape Town scientists, in collaboration with Swiss colleagues, might be close to a breakthrough in the fight against malaria, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said yesterday.
"I have the pleasure to announce the discovery of a compound that will be the first clinical candidate researched on African soil as part of a modern pharmaceutical industry drug discovery programme," she said.
The recently discovered compound, an aminopyridine, not only has the potential to become part of a single-dose cure for all strains of malaria but might be able to block transmission of the parasite between people, she said.
The research collaboration involved the Medicines for Malaria Venture, based in Switzerland, and the Drug Discovery and Development Centre at UCT.
On the basis of the initial results the compound has been selected for further development.
"The candidate molecule is novel, potent and has the potential to have a significant impact on global malaria control and eradication," Pandor said.
The Science and Technology Department had invested R25-million in the pioneering Medicines for Malaria Venture and UCT programme.
"This is a powerful demonstration of how much can be accomplished when open-minded researchers come together for the sake of the greater good of humanity," said Pandor.
"The discovery that we announce today is a significant victory in the battle to alleviate the burden of disease in Africa.
"Clearly, the war on disease is not yet won but I am excited by the role that our excellent scientists have played in finding a potential single-dose cure for malaria and possibly preventing its transmission."