News Feature | April 23, 2014

NSTDA Discovers New Anti-Malaria Drug

By Marcus Johnson

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Thailand’s state run National Science and Technology Development Agency, or NSTDA, has developed a new medication for malaria that will soon be tested in clinical trials. The medication, a chemical called P218, was designed to target the malarial enzyme and stop the disease’s DNA from replicating. Researchers have said that the drug can completely destroy malaria parasites, and it won’t be expensive for the country to manufacture.

 NSTDA President Thaweesak Koanantakool and his research team held a press conference on Monday in order to explain their findings. Koanantakool expressed optimism at the current research. “The new medication can kill the present drug-resistant disease and it is not expensive,” he said.

The next step for the NSTDA is clinical trials. P218 has to meet the country’s Good Laboratory Practice standards before it can be introduced to the general public for use. The agency has indicated that it will sign a cooperation agreement on May 1st with the Medicines for Malaria Venture, or MMV. MMV is an international organization that focuses on designing anti-malaria drugs for public consumption. The organizations believe that the clinical trials for P218 will last about 18 months, and that the drug will be tested on volunteers from Thailand.

Malaria infects over 200 million people each year worldwide. Each year, over 600,000 people die from malaria. In Thailand alone, there are 20,000 malaria patients. There have been reports of drug resistant malaria along the Thailand-Cambodian border as well.

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