New treatments identified to block transmission of malaria

Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia have identified potential new treatments to block malaria transmission from occurring between humans and mosquitoes.

The QIMR team worked with Griffith University in South Brisbane to screen a large library of existing compounds to determine if any had potential for blocking the transmissibility of the deadly disease. After looking at 10,000 substances initially, the researchers found six strong candidates, including some drugs already on the market.

"It was incredibly satisfying," Don Gardiner, the head of QIMR's Malaria Biology Laboratory, said. "It's a significant step forward for work into more transmission blocking anti-malarial drugs. The problem with the only existing drug for blocking transmission in malaria - Primaquine - is that it's toxic in 25 percent of affected populations. We're hopeful that of the six compounds we've identified so far, toxicity won't be an issue, and some may be even more effective at blocking transmission than the existing drug. In addition these compounds could conceivably prevent relapses of the disease."

The researchers will continue the process by investigating the compounds more closely to determine if they are suitable for becoming treatment drugs. Malaria kills more than one million people annually in African, Asian and Pacific nations. Approximately 3.3 billion people are at risk of contracting the disease.