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UCT reseachers hope to zap malaria

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CAPE TOWN – Researchers at UCT aim to make history as they develop a three-in-one drug to fight malaria.

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Researchers at UCT have discovered a three-in-one drug that could cure and prevent malaria. Pictured above: villagers look at new mosquito nets donated to try to fight high malaria in their village, Matongo, Zambia.

They have discovered a compound that could both cure and prevent malaria.

Africa accounts for over 80 percent of all global malaria cases with more than 400,000 deaths last year.

READ: Mosquito traps help fight malaria

Organic chemistry Professor Kelly Chibale says the compound offers the potential to offer protection against all forms of malaria.

"This compound also has the potential to cure malaria when somebody who has been bitten by a mosquito presents themselves with malaria clinical symptoms and finally this compound has the potential to block transmission."

UCT943, as the drug is currently called, would kill the parasites inside mosquitos and the strains of malaria they carry.

This would make person to person transmission near impossible.

Over 30,000 different compounds were tested before finding this one.

However many more phases of development lie ahead.

Chibale says funding is pivotal to the project and estimates that R150-million is needed for the next phase.

"It is important for us Africans to lead the way in contributing to finding solutions to these health problems, which don't just have a bearing on health but also on productivity and the economy."

It’s taken the team six years to get to this point and the various clinical trial phases to follow could add another six to eight years to the project. 

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