Recently, researchers at the University of Cape Town (UCT) announced that they had developed a single-dose treatment for malaria. As National Geographic reports, the drug developed at UCT kills malaria parasites in animal test subjects “instantly,” including those that are drug-resistant—and with no adverse side effects. Clinical trials will begin in 2013. South Africa-based eNews has a little more:
Despite successful public health efforts to combat the disease, malaria is still a major killer—especially of children in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the WHO World Malaria Report 2011, more than 90 percent of malaria deaths in 2010 were in the African region, and 86 percent of deaths worldwide were of children under five. Drugs exist to treat malaria, but resistance can be a problem—as can cost and availability. So far, prevention measures, or vector control, have been the major focus of anti-malaria efforts, such as the distribution of insecticide-treated nets, removal of standing water, and targeted spraying. Resistance to insecticides, however, is also increasing.
The opportunity presented by a side-effect free, instant malaria cure is simply incredible, full stop. That it was developed in sub-Saharan Africa is also exciting. Here’s hoping that the next stage of trials go well—and result in an affordable and available drug.
Postscript: for something a little light-hearted, check out these illustrations by the one-and-only Dr. Seuss for a malaria prevention booklet distributed to U.S. soldiers during World War II.
Header photo by Gamma Man, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.