The discovery of a series of compounds that can cure malaria in rodents with a single, low-dose treatment is reported in a paper published online this week in Nature. The results could help spur the development of antimalarial drugs with the potential to cure and prevent transmission of the disease in humans.
Many existing treatments for malaria - one of the deadliest infectious diseases - target only one stage of the complex life cycle of the Plasmodium parasite that causes the disease, and are further limited by the emergence of drug resistance in particular strains.
Stuart Schreiber and colleagues screened a diverse collection of 100,000 compounds to find new antimalarial agents that could address the limitations of the standard-of-care drugs. They identified a series of compounds that require only a single, low dose to render mice parasite-free for 30 days. The authors note that a single-dose treatment is important in resource-deficient regions to encourage compliance and overcome cost challenges. The compounds are also shown to act against all parasite life stages and are unlikely to induce resistance in parasites.
The authors anticipate that further study of the compound series revealed by their experiments - which they will make available in a Malaria Therapeutics Response Portal - will lead to the development of promising new treatments for the disease.