DA applauds discovery of malaria compound

2012-08-29 21:03
(AP)

(AP)

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UCT develops possible cure for malaria

2012-08-29 10:54

Scientists at the University of Cape Town believe they may have found a drug that could eradicate malaria. Watch. WATCH

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Cape Town - The DA has welcomed the news that the University of Cape Town (UCT) has identified a compound that has the potential to both prevent and cure malaria.

Democratic Alliance spokesperson Junita Kloppers-Lourens congratulated UCT's Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3-D) director Professor Kelly Chibale and his team on Wednesday.

She also commended the science and technology department for the fact that Chibale's research was made possible through the department’s South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI).

Chibale had called the SARChI "something unique and special about this country", Kloppers-Lourens said in a statement.

Autonomy

The SARChI funding model, avoided dictating what should be researched and instead allowed autonomy in the area.

Malaria remained the single biggest killer of people in Africa. As Chibale had pointed out, 24% of total child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa alone were caused by the disease, she said.

On Tuesday, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor announced that UCT scientists, in collaboration with Swiss-based colleagues, were onto a possible breakthrough in the fight against malaria.

"I have the pleasure to announce the discovery of a compound which will be the first ever clinical candidate researched on African soil as part of a modern pharmaceutical industry drug discovery programme," she said.

Block, cure


The recently discovered compound, from the aminopyridine class, not only had the potential to become part of a single-dose cure for all strains of malaria, but might also be able to block transmission of the parasite from person to person.

This followed a research collaboration involving the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), based in Switzerland, and H3-D at UCT.
On the basis of initial results it had been selected by MMV for further development.

"The candidate molecule is novel, potent, and has the potential to have a significant impact on global malaria control and eradication," Pandor said.

R25m

The science and technology department had invested R25m in this pioneering programme between MMV and UCT.

"This is a powerful demonstration of how much can be accomplished when open minded researchers come together for the sake of the greater good of humanity," she said.

Kloppers-Lourens said the fact that there could be a viable cure and treatment for malaria by 2020 was remarkably good news.

"The latent socio-economic benefits of alleviating our disease burden cannot be overstated. Moreover, the potential attraction of highly skilled scientists as a result of this discovery bodes well for critical human capital development in South Africa," she said.

- SAPA

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