Collaboration in Nijmegen leads to potential malaria medicine
In a press release, Radboudumc announces that a candidate drug for the malaria parasite has been found. A molecule that was once designed to cure psoriasis skin disease, particularly effective against malaria. The discovery is the result of a Nijmegen-based collaboration between Radboudumc and spin-off TropIQ Health Sciences, located on Novio Tech Campus.
The investigation of this remedy in psoriasis ended up on a dead end, but an inspiration from the researcher involved led to malaria. The candidate drug has a lot of potential for this infectious disease.
The candidate has good papers, because a single dose of the drug seems to cure the disease completely. Moreover, it is cheap to produce and stops the transfer of malaria parasite from humans to mosquitoes. With that, if it grows into a fully-fledged medicine, it can also contribute to the eradication of malaria. Research leader Koen Dechering of the TropIQ Health Sciences in Nijmegen, sees another advantage: “The molecule has a previously unused mechanism of action. As a result, there is no drug resistance yet, and it is effective against all forms of malaria. Because parasite resistance to malaria drugs is a major problem worldwide, we are close to a breakthrough.”
With around 216 million cases and 400,000 deaths per year, Malaria is one of the largest infectious diseases of our time. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of sick people, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. The most deadly form of malaria is caused by a single-celled parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Once in humans, the parasite develops in five phases from a sex cell to mature male and female germ cells. Those cells can then be sucked up again by mosquitoes, after which fertilization of the parasites takes place in the mosquito stomach. The offspring can end up in humans after a sting of the mosquito. Preventing the spread of malaria is seen as one of the greatest challenges in the fight against malaria.