International healthcare researchers have made a breakthrough in the treatment of malaria, discovering a compound that combats the disease at multiple stages in its lifecycle.
The aminopyridine substance, which has been named MMV390048, could potentially be an element of a single-dose cure for malaria and may even be able to prevent the disease from spreading among people.
Scientists at Australia's Griffith University initially identified the aminopyridine series, but its anti-malaria properties were explored and scrutinised by researchers at the University of Cape Town's Drug Discovery and Development Centre in South Africa.
Lead researcher Professor Kelly Chibale, who directs and leads the establishment, argued that the discovery marks a "proud day for African science and African scientists".
The research team is "very excited" about the compound's potential and hopes that when investigations are completed, the drug is found to be an "extremely effective medicine for malaria", she said.
According to research in the Lancet, 24 per cent of all child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa are caused by malaria, while the US' Centre for Disease Control found that approximately 216 million cases of the disease occurred internationally during 2010.
Overall, around 655,000 of these sufferers died and 91 per cent of these fatalities were in Africa.
The disease, which is carried by the Anopheles mosquito, occurs in subtropical and tropical regions, including in south Asia and South America.
"Clearly the war on this disease is not yet won, but I am excited by the role that our excellent scientists have played in this milestone in finding a potential cure for malaria and possibly preventing its transmission," South African minister of science and technology Naledi Pandor stated.
"Congratulations to Professor Kelly Chibale and all involved," she added.