Scientists claim to have discovered a miracle compound which stops malaria in mice with a single, low dose.
The discovery could open a new avenue for the development of more effective antimalarials as parasites become resistant to existing drugs.
Researchers at MIT and Harvard found that a single dose in mice prevented infection from developing for the duration of the 30 day study.
By targeting a specific enzyme, it combatted early infection in the liver before parasites could spread to the blood in bigger numbers, the BBC reported.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Professor David Baker said he was excited about the findings: “The advantage of a single dose antimalarial is that it potentially reduces costs and removes the issue of patients not completing the course of treatment.”
Malaria is transferred via bites from infected female mosquitoes.
Around 50% of the world’s population is at risk of catching it, but current medicines are proving increasingly inefficient.
One malaria parasite on the Cambodia-Thailand border has become resistant to almost all antimalarials, according to the BBC.
Parasites can develop resistance when patients’ fail to finish their course of treatment, but a single dose drug could help to remove such a threat.
Scientists trawled through a library of more than 100,000 compounds before coming across the potentially revolutionary chemical.
Professor Stuart Schreiber, the lead researcher, told the BBC: “We invite the scientific community to use this database as a jumping off point for their work developing antimalarial therapies.”
Professor Baker added: “One of the safety tests they ran on the new compounds gave results suggesting that there may be a degree of toxicity in human cells, but hopefully the chemists will be able to modify the compounds to remove this issue.”
The research was published in Nature.