A fast working, single dose malaria drug developed by scientists based in Bangalore has proved to be safe and effective in a series of tests on animals.
The drug Triaminopyrimidine (TAP) is predicted to have a half-life of 36 hours in humans, allowing for a single, effective dose.
The drug is said to work against drug resistant strains of the malaria pathogen and has no known side-effects. After a few more lab tests, it will go for clinical trials in humans.
Vasan Sambandamurthy, a senior author of the study told Times of India: "It's a fast-killing and long-acting antimalarial clinical candidate. TAP acts exclusively on the blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum (the stage responsible for clinical symptoms) in a relevant mouse model. This candidate is equally active against causative agent Plasmodium vivax."
Existing drugs have a limited effect in humans with a half-life of not more than two hours. It is after that period that the parasites gain strength. This calls for more doses to deal with the infection.
Funded by Medicine for Malaria Venture, the research was mostly done at AstraZeneca's Bangalore centre between 2011 and 2014, and with support from GlaxoSmithKline, Columbia University and Harvard School of Public Health.
Drug-resistant malaria is a cause of concern at present with resistance growing against the combination therapy based on artemisinin, a Chinese herb derivative.
Recent detection of artemisinin-resistant strains of the pathogen at the Myanmar-India border raised fears of a threat to millions across the globe if the resistance spreads across the border.
Deaths from mosquito-borne malaria have nearly halved since 2000, but the infection still killed about 584,000 people in 2013, mostly in Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Back in the last century, chloroquine saved hundreds of millions of lives, but resistance was discovered in 1957. It was then replaced by sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), but resistance to SP also soon emerged in western Cambodia and spread to Africa.
SP was replaced by artemisinin combination treatment, or ACT.
Given the quick development of resistance among the parasites, work is in progress to develop a vaccine.
Rise in temperature across the globe has seen the malaria transmitting mosquito take residence in new regions of the world like UK and parts of Europe raising concern.