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Effective New Malaria Drug
© WHO/TDR 2002
In an article published in the latest issue of The Lancet, an international consortium, funded by a €1.8 million research grant from the European Commission, reports successful efficacy trials of a new candidate drug against malaria.
If these initial results are confirmed a new drug could be available within 3 years. This raises new hopes in the combat against poverty-linked diseases, in particular in the face of the resurgence of drug-resistant forms of malaria in areas where it was though to have been eradicated.
For the first time, the active compound fosmidomycin has been used for the treatment of malaria in humans – a good example of the rapid exploitation of genomic information for clinical applications. The therapeutic principle was developed by biotechnology company Jomaa Pharmaka GmbH in co-operation with the University of Giessen, Germany, and it was further developed to clinical application by an international research consortium.
Fosmidomycin inhibits an enzyme crucial for the malarial parasite: 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate (DOXP) reductoisomerase. This enzyme is involved in the biosynthesis of certain vital biomolecules, isoprenoids. In humans, these substances are produced via a biochemical pathway different to that of malarial parasites, so it is not toxic for humans.
The novel compound proves to be a highly effective drug against malaria. In a clinical study conducted on 27 patients at the Albert Schweitzer hospital in Lambaréné (Gabon), a team of scientists demonstrated that fosmidomycin readily kills the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
MEDICA.de; Source: European Commission