New drug to cure malaria passes its first tests with flying colours

A NEW drug that could cure ­malaria has been successfully tested by Australian scientists.

People contract the disease from the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. Its saliva carries a micro-organism which infects red-blood cell. The disease, which is recurrent, causes fever and headache and can cause coma and death. Up to 3,000 people a day die of malaria worldwide. In 2010, it killed 1.2 million people, from 219 million known cases.

Developed by US and Singaporean researchers, the new drug attacks the ability of the parasite to excrete salt.

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A team at the Research School of Biology at Australia National University found in tests the drug knocks out the parasites’ “salt pump” causing it to fill up and die.

Director, Professor Kiaran Kirk said: “This is the first genuinely new drug in 20 years. Targeting the pump protein has never been done before to treat malaria.”

The drug is undergoing clinical trials and it will be years before it comes to market.