New antimalarial compounds discovered

Researchers at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon, Portugal announced on Tuesday that they have discovered a new class of potent antimalarial compounds.

The compounds the researchers found to be effective against malaria are referred to as Torins. Torins were originally developed to stop a key human protein that is involved with cell growth and was shown to be effective as an anticancer agent.

The researchers discovered that Torins also have a novel activity against the Plasmodium parasites in mosquitos, which is a parasite responsible for transmitting malaria from a mosquito to a human.

Torins were shown to be able to kill cultured blood stages of this human parasite. A single dose of Torin, injected into mice, was enough to eliminate infection before the Plasmodium parasites could reach blood.

"Given the alarming trend of resistance to our current antimalarial therapies, this is really an exciting finding, and we are already working to develop Torin molecules suitable for clinical trials of antimalarial activity in humans," Dr. Maria Mota, the senior author of the study, said.

Malaria is a continuing global problem. It is estimated that 220 million people are infected by Plasmodium parasites each year. 666,000 die because of malaria, with the majority of these cases are young children living in sub-Saharan Africa.