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Homeland Preparedness News: Portland State University researchers receive $3.15M NIH grant for malaria cure
Author: Chris Galford
Posted: July 9, 2019

To read the original story, visit Homeland Preparedness.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a $3.15 million grant to scientists at Portland State University (PSU) to fuel research into a pill-based cure for malaria.

The funding will go to advance the research toward clinical trials. The study is built on the back of a compound created from soil bacterium, which PSU chemistry professor Kevin Reynolds began researching 10 years ago. Research in the compound as a potential malaria treatment has been considered since the 1970s though no full studies were developed from the report released at the time.

Now, Reynolds’ rediscovery of that text and compound could yield a variety of methods to kill the malaria parasite in mice and human blood with a single low dose. Given that the parasite kills around 500,000 people each year, the potential of such a find cannot be understated.

Reynolds has been backed in his endeavors by PSU chemistry researchers Jane Kelly and Papireddy Kancharla, along with the nonprofit Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). The last yielded research that showed the compound successful at killing malaria in its reproductive state, the blood, and the liver — well before it ever reached the bloodstream.

“The liver stage is the key,” Kelly said. “The malaria virus gets in the liver first, so if you can catch it then, it’s much more effective in eliminating the disease.”

In this regard, Kelly noted the compound might not just be a cure, but a preventative element as well. Such measures will be refined over the next five years thanks to the NIH grant, which will allow the team to put more work into their compounds.