Malaria is a serious health threat to billions of people around the world, particularly children. The World Health Organization estimates that a child in Africa dies of malaria every minute. Although malaria can be cured, the parasites that cause it often develop drug resistance, complicating efforts to fight the disease.
Now, a fast-acting drug candidate developed by St. Jude scientists and collaborators offers new hope for beating malaria. The candidate, called (+)-SJ733, triggers the immune system to rapidly destroy red blood cells infected by the deadliest type of malaria parasite. After only 48 hours, the parasites are gone without a trace.
Clinical trials are being planned to test the safety of (+)-SJ733 in humans.
"Our goal is to develop an affordable, fast-acting combination therapy that cures malaria with a single dose," said R. Kiplin Guy, PhD, chair of St. Jude Chemical Biology and Therapeutics.
"These results indicate that SJ733, and other compounds that act in a similar fashion, are highly attractive additions to the global malaria eradication campaign, which would mean so much for the world’s children."
The work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
December 5, 2014