eHEALTH BureauResearchers have discovered a promising new malaria drug with the potential to treat resistant strains of the deadly disease in a single dose, according to a study published recently in the journal Science.The drug could be ready for clinical trials as soon as later this year and appears to be more potent than currently used drugs, researchers said. “We’re very excited by the new compound,” said study author Elizabeth Winzeler, a professor at the Scripps Research Institute and member of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation. It has a lot of encouraging features as a drug candidate, including an attractive safety profile and potential treatment in a single oral dose, she added.Current treatment methods require patients to take drugs between one and four times daily for three to seven days. Reducing the treatment to a single dose leaves less opportunity for the parasites to develop a resistance to the drug, researchers said.There were approximately 247 million cases of malaria in 2008 which caused nearly 1 million deaths, mostly among young children in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation. The compound, dubbed NITD609, was developed through a partnership involving the pharmaceutical giant Novartis, several non-profit organisations, US and Singapore government agencies and researchers at universities in the United States, Switzerland, Thailand, and Great Britain.