Tens of thousands of chemical compounds have been identified as potential new treatments for malaria during tests carried out by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.
Some two million compounds were analysed by researchers at the firm to monitor their effect on the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
More than 13,500 held back the growth of the parasite by at least 80%, while around 8,000 proved to be effective against multidrug-resistant malaria which has become more prevalent as the disease adapts and responds to current drug therapies.
The test results have been published by GlaxoSmithKline in the journal Nature in a move that has surprised the industry considering the potential commercial value of developing new malaria drugs.
But GlaxoSmithKline said the decision to go public with the findings was made in order to “encourage additional drug lead identification efforts and further research into this disease” which affects more than 240 million people around the world and causes around 863,000 deaths every year.
Efforts to find alternatives to chloroquine and pyrimethamine-sulphurdoxine which are used to treat the disease have intensified as the drugs have become increasingly less effective due to the spread of resistant strains.
Copyright Press Association 2010