SUNDAY, MAY 20, 2018

Singapore researchers study modifications to anti-malaria drug

GSK and Comic Relief partner to battle malaria
GSK and Comic Relief partner to battle malaria | Courtesy of
Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) are exploring effects of artemisinin, a potent drug used to combat parasites that transmit malaria.

Usually considered the last resort against malaria, artemisinin is losing effectiveness as more bacteria develop mechanisms to resist the drug. However, the NUS team has uncovered new ways to use artemisinin, such as exploring uses of concentrations and various drug derivatives that can be compounded and utilized in entirely new drugs and vaccines.

The need for discovery of artemisinin and its new compounds and uses could not be more urgent. It is estimated that 3.2 billion people are susceptible to malaria. As of September 2015, there are an estimated 214 million cases of malaria worldwide, and 438,000 deaths in 2015 have been linked to malaria.

Combating the pervasive nature of malaria is a complex process, but artemisinin structures hold hope for combating malaria, according to Professor Kevin Tan from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

"Artemisinin resistance in malaria parasites becoming an emerging concern, particularly in Southeast Asia, our study could potentially contribute to the design of better drugs and treatment strategies against malaria,” Tan said. "Design and engineering of derivatives and exploration of alternatives is the answer for controlling — and eventually eradicating — malaria."  

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National University of Singapore

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