Scientists develop new drug treatment for malaria

The new drug is made from simple organic molecules

Scientists at the University and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine have produced a new antimalarial drug that is more chemically stable in the body than current malaria treatments.

Researchers are testing the drug as part of a £1.5 million project 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.

The team has created a synthetic drug based on the chemical structure of artemisinin, an extract of a Chinese herb commonly used in malaria treatment which can be taken orally and is more potent than naturally derived artemisinin.

Artemisinin is known to interact with a substance inside parasite-infected red blood cells, causing a chain of events that destroys malaria.  The treatment, however, is difficult to mass produce and can be chemically unstable in the body.

Scientists have now found a way of creating the most reactive part of artemisinin synthetically and fusing it with a cage-like structure made of organic molecules to make the drug more chemically stable.  The stability of the chemical structure in the body makes the drug last longer, reducing the chance of the parasite reappearing.

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