A new drug might help save thousands of lives from the deadly mosquito-borne disease, malaria.
Of all the various diseases you could get, malaria is up there as one of the worst. According to a WHO report from last November, 219 million cases of malaria were reported in 2017, resulting in an estimated 435,000 deaths. The vast majority of those killed were children under 5 years old, about 61% of all malaria deaths reported.
So yeah. Malaria sucks. Worse, malaria is mutating and becoming resistant to the current arsenal of drugs at a doctor's disposal. Luckily, a team of scientists in Kenya is working on introducing a new drug in the fight against the deadly disease.
It's actually not a new drug at all; it's an old drug used to treat various parasitic diseases, like scabies, worms, and lice. Ivermectin is derived from the bacterium Streptomyces avermitilis and basically turns human blood lethal to parasites.
While it's been used for years to get rid of bloodborne parasites, researchers at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) found that it's also effective in reducing transmission rates of malaria. Not only does the drug kill plasmodium falciparum, a specific type of malaria virus, it also kills the mosquito that's carrying it. That's a double-whammy in the fight against malaria.
Trials in Burkina Faso found transmission rates plummeted when people took Ivermectin, and a study from Yale found that child malaria cases could be reduced by as much as 20%.
Dr. Simon Kariuki, head of Kenya’s malaria research program at Kemri, said that clinical trials are underway and could result in a new drug in as little as 2 years.
“In a few years, new malaria drugs could be in the market if the current research findings are to go by. The same bacteria known to kill dangerous pathogens in scabies, river blindness, can also be applied in malaria," said Kariuki in a statement.
“Future drug trials of women and children are planned … and obviously with the highest safety standards. We need more answers on Ivermectin. We need new malaria drugs as soon as possible as drug resistance is not something to ignore and we have to treat the situation as urgent."
Trials are currently underway at the CDC, but they’re expected to complete quickly as Ivermectin is a known drug with well documented side effects. Trials for a malaria vaccine are also underway.
(via The Guardian)