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Experimental malaria drug may be a hot prospect

Parasite doesn’t develop resistance to synthetic compound in early tests

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9:17am, March 22, 2013

An experimental drug zaps the malaria parasite at multiple stages of infection, tests in mice show. And it may have an important upside: it doesn’t appear prone to drug resistance, the Achilles’ heel of malaria medicines.

While preliminary, the findings offer welcome news in a field beset by uneven performance as the malaria protozoa subvert drug after drug. The situation has gotten so bad that the World Health Organization now recommends that doctors prescribe two drugs at once to increase the odds of killing the parasite without allowing a resistant form to emerge.

In the face of this gloomy picture, authors of the new study are decidedly optimistic. “We do hope this is a game changer,” says biochemist Michael Riscoe of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.  The report appears in the March 20 Science Translational Medicine.

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