New Drug for Recurring Malaria

An Anopheles stephensi mosquito is obtaining a blood meal from a human host through its pointed proboscis. Note the droplet of blood being expelled from the abdomen after having engorged itself on its host’s blood. This mosquito is a known malarial vector with a distribution that ranges from Egypt all the way to China. (source: Wikipedia and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library [PHIL])

An Anopheles stephensi mosquito is obtaining a blood meal from a human host through its pointed proboscis. Note the droplet of blood being expelled from the abdomen after having engorged itself on its host’s blood. This mosquito is a known malarial vector with a distribution that ranges from Egypt all the way to China. (source: Wikipedia and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library [PHIL])

July 24, 2018 | Source: BBC News, bbc.com, 23 July 18, Smitha Mundasad

A new drug to treat malaria has been given the green light by authorities in the United States.


The medicine is specifically for the recurring form of malaria - caused by the parasite plasmodium vivax - which makes 8.5 million people ill each year.

This type of malaria is a particular challenge to get rid of as it can remain dormant in the liver for years before reawakening many times.

Scientists have described tafenoquine as a "phenomenal achievement."

Regulators around the world will now look at the drug to see if they can recommend it for their populations.

Recurring malaria is the most common type of malaria outside Sub-Saharan Africa.

Children can be particularly at risk, getting several bouts of malaria from a single bite, missing lots of school and getting weaker each time they get the disease.

And infected people can act as unwitting reservoirs of the disease because when the parasite reawakens in their bodies a mosquito can carry that parasite on to someone else.

This can make it hard to eliminate around the world.

Now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has given the seal of approval to tafenoquine, a drug that can flush the parasite out of its hiding place in the liver and stop people getting it again.

It can be taken alongside another medicine to treat the immediate infection.