A newly approved drug could be a boon for treating malaria | Science News

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A newly approved drug could be a boon for treating malaria

But people with a certain genetic mutation who use tafenoquine could be at risk of anemia

By
10:00am, August 9, 2018
mosquito

STEALTHY SUCKER  This Anopheles albimanus mosquito is one of several species that can transmit the recurring form of malaria. A new drug could help stem such relapses.

The first new treatment in 60 years for a particularly stubborn kind of malaria is raising hopes that it might help eradicate the disease, even though the treatment can cause a dangerous side effect.

Called tafenoquine, the drug targets the parasite that causes relapsing malaria. Plasmodium vivax infects an estimated 8.5 million people, mainly in Asia and Latin America. Each time infected people have a malaria relapse, the parasite returns to their bloodstream, allowing them to transmit the infection if a mosquito bites them again. Tafenoquine was approved as a treatment in July by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is under consideration as a preventative medication, too.

“This is a game changer because we’ve really been struggling with eliminating [P.] vivax,” says malaria physician Ric Price from the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, Australia.

The FDA’s action is expected to spur other

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