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Old drug could be a big new deal for fight against malaria

This scientific finding got a little bit of media attention, but deserves more:

A cheap drug, called Ivermectin (or brand name Mectizan), that Merck originally made for dogs may become a useful new weapon against one of the world’s biggest killers, malaria.

It was discovered many years ago that this drug also works against other parasitic worms that cause river blindness (onchocerciasis) and elephantiasis (filariasis). Merck, apparently unaware that it is supposed to be an evil drug company, has for more than 15 years been donating this drug to poor countries in Africa to fight these debilitating diseases.

Malaria is also caused by a parasite. In a study funded by a Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations grant, researchers at Colorado State University explored if the drug might also work against the malaria bug.

The study is published in this week’s American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (which you can’t read because the scientific publishing community thinks they can get you pay to read it … and which may account for the relatively low number of news articles on this amazing discovery).

Here are a few other reports of note on this:

Karen Grepin’s Global Health Blog Maybe Now People Will Care About Onchocerciasis

Bill Brieger’s Malaria Free Future blog Novel idea, but can it be scaled?


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.