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We already have a number of effective drugs, why do we still need to develop new ones?
Currently there are medicines available to treat falciparum malaria - the most prevalent form of the disease in Africa - but this requires a 3-day treatment course. Ideally, we need a drug that needs just one administration to ensure that treatment can be directly observed by the healthcare worker. This is especially important when treatment follow-up is difficult, as is the case in many malaria-endemic countries. MMV is currently trialling a long-sought one-dose cure.
Plasmodium vivax or relapsing malaria is the most prevalent species in Southeast Asia and South America. P. vivax has the ability to become dormant in the liver, and may reactivate after several months leading to an attack of malaria in the absence of a mosquito bite. Current therapy is with primaquine, which must be taken over 14 days. In patients with a G6PD deficiency, primaquine causes haemolysis. MMV is actively looking for new molecules that provide a radical cure for vivax malaria and will therefore put an end to the relapse.