Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) and Germany's University of Heidelberg say that the forgotten malaria drug chloroquine may yet prove effective against the disease provided it is administered in a different way.
Malaria is a deadly vector-borne disease that is endemic in some parts of Africa and is known to claim at least half a million people annually across the globe. Chloroquine had been the standard drug used to prevent and treat malaria since the 1940s, but its use has recently faded as the malaria parasite developed resistance to the drug.
This new research indicated that the protein responsible for the parasite's resistance can be bypassed, thus making the drug effective once again. "We studied diverse versions of this protein and in all cases found that it is limited in its capacity to remove the drug from the parasite," said malaria researcher Dr Rowena Martin, from the ANU Research School of Biology. "This means malaria could once again be treated with chloroquine if it is administered twice-daily, rather than just once a day."
The study is published in the journal PNAS.