Global Processing

Study Reveals Chemical Compound that Could Aid Malaria Vaccines

May 24, 2010
A pair of studies published in Nature reported a massive screening of chemicals has turned up thousands of compounds that could lead to new drugs in the fight against malaria. An international team of researchers led by R. Kiplin Guy of St. Jude Children''s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee combed through more than 300,000 candidate chemicals. They identified 1,100 agents out of more than 300,000 candidates that inhibited growth of the deadly P. falciparum parasite that causes the disease by at least 80 percent. An even more select subset of 172 compounds all had chemical structures unlike those in existing antimalarial drugs, according to the study. The fact that these novel agents acted on different targets in the mosquito-borne parasite could prove crucial in beating back the emerging threat of drug-resistant variants. Setting a similar threshold for blocking the parasite''s growth, the researchers uncovered 13,500 promising active compounds. Significantly, 8,000 of them were equally effective against multi-drug resistant P. falciparum parasites. More than 11,000 of the "hits" were proprietary compounds owned by the drug company, which has taken the unusual step of transferring them to the public domain, where they are available researchers anywhere in the world.