Pre-clinical studies of a cheap and powerful new cure for malaria are about to begin.
Scientists have designed and synthesised a chemical that is easy to make and can wipe out the parasite responsible for the disease.
Malaria kills 2.7 million people every year, most of them children living in the developing world. Mosquito-transmitted parasites that cause the disease are becoming resistant to many of the modern treatments.
Henri Vial, director of the CNRS laboratory at the Universite de Montpellier, France, told the British Society for Parasitology's recent malaria meeting at University College Chester that his team was confident of success.
He told The Times Higher : "This compound is among the most potent antimalarial agents known - it will certainly save lives in the developing world."
The chemical, named te3, is the product of 15 years of research by scientists in four countries, including a team at Liverpool University.
The ingredients required to make te3 are cheap, and synthesis involves three steps. It prevents the malaria parasite from making essential substances and this ultimately results in its death.
Dr Vial said that in the laboratory, infected mice had been cured with a single injection and infected monkeys had needed only tiny doses to make a full recovery. Preliminary tests have not found any adverse effects.
- Scientists in Malaysia have found that a malaria parasite previously thought to be carried only by macaque monkeys is infecting people across Southeast Asia.