Australian scientists make malaria treatment breakthrough

An international study involving Australian researchers from Griffith University's Eskitis Institute, recently discovered a molecule that could become the basis of new anti-malaria drugs.

Vicky Avery, a co-author of the paper, said the new 4(1H)-quinolone-3-diarylethers act as strong inhibitors of the mitochondrial cytochrome bc1 complex of the malaria parasite. Avery said that drugs based on the compound would target the malaria parasite during different parts of its lifecycle.

In the study, which was published in Science Translational Medicine, Avery said the compound could kill the parasite in infected people and reduce transmission rates of the deadly disease.

"Just one of these properties would be of great benefit but to achieve both would really make a difference in reducing the disease burden on developing nations," Avery said. "There is also the real possibility that we could begin to impact on the incidence and spread of malaria, bringing us closer to the ultimate goal of wiping out malaria altogether."

ELQ-300, a preclinical compound based on the molecule, effectively demonstrated the ability to block malaria transmission in mouse models. The development of a new class of anti-malarials comes at a time when the parasite is becoming more resistant to currently available treatments.

"I congratulate Professor Avery on her contribution to the discovery of this new class of anti-malarials," Ronald Quinn, the director of the Eskitis Institute, said. "This is an exciting discovery that closely aligns with the Institute's focus on global health and fighting diseases that burden the developing world. We are continuing to take the fight to malaria along a number of fronts, including targeting its many life cycle stages."