Roughly half a million people die every year from malaria.
It's a significant decrease from the millions who died from the disease each year a decade ago, but with two of every three malaria-related deaths are children. And the parasite that causes the disease is growing resistant to drugs we have to battle it.
Dennis Kyle puts the problem in simple terms: “We have to come up with better compounds to fight the disease.”
And that’s just what he’s doing.
Kyle serves as the director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, an interdisciplinary venture that focuses on tackling diseases that affect millions around the world. His area of expertise lies in developing new drugs and investigating drug resistance mechanisms to see why the drugs we have to combat certain diseases don’t work or stop working.
“Pretty much every drug that we come up with for malaria, within a few years of treating people with it, we get resistance,” says Kyle, the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Antiparasitic Drug Discovery. He worked on the drug that is currently prescribed to people planning to visit Africa to protect them against the diseases and “saw the first case of resistance in the second person we treated.”
In order to better protect travelers, that drug is now being used in combination with other medications, following the protocol set in place by researchers contending with drug-resistant tuberculosis.