New malaria treatment passes first pre-clinical study

A malaria treatment developed with the help of Industrial Research Ltd. in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, has passed its first pre-clinical study.

According to Gary Evans, the company's principal scientist, the new treatment starves to death the parasite that is responsible for malaria within seven days. If the drug successfully makes it through all clinical trials, it may become an effective medication against the deadly disease, New Zealand Radio News reports.

The trials of the drug are currently in the early stages. It could take years before the treatment is available for human use if it is approved.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3.3 billion people live in areas that are at risk of transmitting malaria in 109 territories and countries. In 2008, the World Health Organization estimated that there were 190 to 311 million clinical episodes of malaria, which led to between 708,000 and 1,003,000 deaths.

Worldwide, malaria is the fifth leading cause of death from infectious diseases. It is the second leading cause of death from infectious diseases in Africa. Approximately 89 percent of malaria deaths worldwide occur in Africa. Between 1957 and 2009, there have been 63 outbreaks of locally transmitted malaria borne by mosquitoes in the United States.