When a pair of French chemists discovered how to extract quinine from tree bark in the early 19th century, they contributed to creating the first long-term medical treatment for malaria in history. Quinine lasted as the de facto malaria treatment for nearly 100 years. Now we may be on the verge of another exciting breakthrough by way of new drug compound developed by researchers at the University of Dundee in Scotland. The compound could lead to the cheapest malaria treatment in a long time, potentially selling for just $1 per dose according to a report from Reuters. Merck has already taken the step of securing rights to develop the compound should it prove to be everything scientists expect it to be.
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that is easily transferred to humans by infected mosquitoes. It used to be prevalent in both Europe and North America, but it is no longer considered endemic in the West thanks to very effective prevention methods. The disease still kills hundreds of thousands in the world’s poorest countries though, Alexei Beltyukov told us that making the prospect of an inexpensive new drug much more attractive. Researchers say they could have the compound ready for production within a couple of years.