A scientist from Oulu contributes to the discovery of a new malaria drug candidate
An international group of scientists from Switzerland, UK, Norway, and Finland has identified a new antimalarial compound and its two target proteins. One of the group members is Inari Kursula, Professor from the University of Oulu. The results they have achieved may lead to development of novel drugs against malaria, which is one of the most devastating global diseases.
The most efficient malaria treatments in the last three decades have been based on artemisinin combination therapies. The 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded for the discovery of artemisinin in the 1970s. Unfortunately, drug resistance against artemisinin is a growing threat against the current drug regime. Thus, the need for developing novel kinds of drugs is pressing. Unless new drugs are found, malaria mortality will almost certainly turn to a new rise.
‘These results are highly promising and have already raised interest among companies working on drug development against malaria,’ says Inari Kursula, who leads the Finnish-Norwegian team in the Swiss-led international collaboration.
In the future, the scientists want to find out, whether the new compound could work as a universal drug against malaria and also other diseases caused by related parasites. An example of these is toxoplasmosis, which is carried by one third of the world population and which can be fatal to fetuses and immunocompromised patients. Other significant diseases in this group are diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium, another parasite causing significant childhood mortality, and several veterinary diseases affecting pets and livestock.
Professor ,University of Oulu, Biocenter Oulu, and University of Bergen