A team of chemists from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) recently developed a new, simpler way to treat malaria with three powerful chemical groups in a single drug.
This new drug development shows promise for the future of treating malaria and is particularly important since more than 1 million people die from malaria every year and the parasite that causes malaria is continuously growing resistant to traditional treatments.
"The parasites that cause the disease continuously evolve and become resistant to existing drugs, so we need to constantly design and synthesize new drugs to treat malaria," Xinbo Wang, a chemist in Associate Professor Zhiping Lai's group in the KAUST Physical Science and Engineering Division, said.
Thanks to this discovery, scientists may be able to develop a new group of drugs to treat cancer, bacterial infections and other illnesses.
The chemical structure is called the "alpha-amino peroxide group." This is part of current anti-malarial compounds and provides researchers with a strong foundation for creating new drugs. By combining the alpha-amino peroxide group with an “indole” chemical group, the researchers created the “N-(alpha-peroxy)-indole” structure.
Unfortunately, there are major issues with the current approaches of creating these compounds, because the new compounds need challenging chemical conditions to be successful.
"There are lots of reports on the synthesis of indole or peroxide-containing compounds, but there are no general methodologies for combining the two functional groups in one molecule that had been previously reported," Wang said.