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We haven’t seen a new drug introduced to the market to tackle recurring malaria in over 60 years – but thanks to a team of scientists at GSK, who worked in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria, that all looks set to change.

Krintafel (tafenoquine) has already been given the go ahead by the FDA, with other regulators in affected countries looking to follow suit. Designed for the treatment of P. vivax malaria, the drug has already been hailed a “phenomenal achievement”, but with a similar drug currently on the market why are scientists so excited by this one?

Primaquine was developed in 1946 to fight recurring malaria and has been the go to drug ever since – but it has to be taken for 14 days in a row, with patients often failing to complete the course of treatment. The new Krintafel only has to be administered once to be effective.

Recurring malaria is caused by the parasite plasmodium vivax, which can sit dormant for many years in the liver. It is most common in Asia and Latin America, and can be most harmful to children who become weaker after each bout of the disease. The drug works by flushing the parasite out of the liver, preventing the disease from returning.

“This new drug is an important breakthrough, and making it available quickly will help reduce malaria cases globally, especially in Asia and the Americas,” said Martin Edlund, CEO of Malaria No More, according to Vanguard.

“To save millions of lives from malaria and ultimately end this disease we need novel tools like Krintafel, and to continue investing in a pipeline of innovation.”

The latest data surrounding malaria on a global scale is from 2016. Then, of the 216 million people who contracted the disease, 445,000 people died. That equated to 1,219 deaths every day. This data also saw an increase of 5 million cases from the previous year – shocking the WHO into pledging to have completely eradicated the disease by 2030.

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