Doing Our Part to Stop Malaria
“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”
— Betty Reese
These powerful words only begin to describe the devastating disease known as Malaria. While all it takes to contract the disease is one bite from an Anopheles mosquito infected with the Plasmodium parasite, a steady stream of powerful drugs is necessary to cure it. While those of us fortunate enough to reside in the western world need not even worry about contracting (let alone curing) this malicious infection, there are millions of people in this world who are not quite so lucky.
Malaria affects more than 300 million people around the world annually. Of those people, about a million of them will die, the majority of them being children under the age of 5 and pregnant women. The disease’s presence is known primarily in the equatorial regions, including (but not limited to) Central/South America and Southeast Asia; however it takes its biggest toll in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 85% percent of malaria-induced deaths occur. In these places, where the need for treatment is greatest, afflicted persons suffer the most from the lack of such treatment. The simplest and cheapest of medicines, a drug called chloroquine, is showing an alarming decrease in effectiveness as the disease has gained resistance to this cure. More advanced, widespread treatments containing a compound known as arteminisin can cost between 10 and 40 times that of chloroquine. While there are prophylactic drugs available, there is no vaccine on the market.
It’s clear that Malaria must be eradicated. So what’s being done to stop this horrifying disease?
Groups have sprung up around the globe to offer their help. Some, like the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, deal directly with aiding regions afflicted with the disease (such as providing mosquito nets and basic treatment plans). Others like the Malaria Foundation International focus on the research side, providing scientists with resources and tools to further the advancement of drugs to combat the infection.
Here at Collaborative Drug Discovery, we offer a technological solution. Our public-access database includes 5 datasets dedicated to studies of over 15000 compounds used in previous Malaria research. We work with numerous groups of scientists in this area, providing our platform as a foundation for their research. You can read about CDD’s contributions to overcoming the resistance to chloroquine in our recent Drug Discovery Today paper in collaboration with Dr. Christopher Lipinski, the McKerrow Group (UCSF), and the Chibale and Smith Groups at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. These groups privately and securely used CDD, to identify both known drugs and new compounds that almost completely reverse chloroquine resistance!
CDD is one of the many groups that are doing their part in the fight against Malaria. If everybody does their part, we can stop this disease from continuing to take lives. World Malaria Day is April 25th, 2009. Do your part to help stop Malaria. If you think you are too small to be effective, just think about the mosquito.
For more information on Malaria, please visit the following websites:
- CDC Malaria Facts Page
- Gates Foundation Malaria Page
- WHO/TDR Malaria database
- Medicines for Malaria Ventures
- Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative
- Financial Times 2009 Malaria Report