A new compound can stop the growth of a parasite that causes malaria, scientists have said
Scientists have created a compound that prevents the parasite that causes malaria from growing.
The new drug penetrates red blood cells and targets molecular machinery that enables the parasite to grow within the cells, according to findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The research was carried out by a Yale University team headed by Nobel laureate Sidney Altman following the discovery by Yale immunobiology professor Alfred Bothwell of a basic peptide that can penetrate cell walls and membranes.
The team has already shown that this compound can kill dangerous strains of bacteria and is currently investigating its efficacy in combating infections in skin wounds.
While they have found it to be effective in red blood cell tissue culture, further tests are needed to make sure the compound works in humans and animals as well.
Prof Altman said: "While we primarily looked at one species of parasite, it is clear the compound also knocks out drug-resistant strains of malaria as well.
"This compound can wipe out strains that are currently resistant to drugs such as chloroquine and pyrimethamine.
"It will be some time before this is commercially available."
Malaria is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes and killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide in 2010, according to research recently published in The Lancet medical journal.