Malaria has claimed a considerable number of lives, specially children’s; toddlers under the age of five are normally more vulnerable to the infection, and thousands died after getting infected last year. Fighting the disease has proved to be challenging in certain regions of the world. A new drug, though, will hopefully reverse the current trend.
The drug is said to kill malaria parasites present in the blood, according to a chemistry professor from Rutgers University, Spencer Knapp, who prepared the drug in laboratory. It is not yet known whether it will be effective for humans though.
The compound in question called SJ733 works by adhering to a malaria parasite protein that functions as a salt pump to remove sodium. The binding of the compound causes the protein to be blocked causing an accumulation of sodium ions. This is then followed by the movement of water molecules inside. Ultimately, the parasite is blown up inside blood cells.
For the clinical trials, 4 kilograms of SJ733 were made. Preclinical safety clinics that have already been done have proved to be successful. No side effect has been identified so far. This is a major step forward in the fight against malaria since many compounds described as potentially efficient against the malaria parasite do not get past animal studies.
The clinical trials might be conducted for a period of around two years. SJ733 will first be given to healthy volunteers in the form of pills. The researchers intend to evaluate its safety and its pharmacokinetics. The following step will then entail two phases of human malaria.