ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— When you think of malaria you probably have images in your mind of South Asian countries or places in the Sub-Sahara, but 2,000 cases of malaria are diagnosed every year in the United States. Malaria causes high fever and chills as the infection spreads and can be fatal if untreated. Ivanhoe has more on the search for new treatments that involve a surprising finding.

In many parts of the world, mosquitos are much more than a nuisance. They spread potentially fatal diseases like malaria and current treatments don’t always work.

“The drugs which are effective against malaria, they are losing their efficacy because of the appearance of drug resistance. So there is a need for new therapies or new drugs,” explained Debopam Chakrabarti, PhD, Professor of Molecular Microbiology, UCF College of Medicine.

Chakrabarti and fellow infectious disease experts have been searching for a new antibiotic when a colleague at the University of Oklahoma found inspiration in an old box of cereal. The researcher opened it to find mold on the round oats and thought it would provide the perfect growing conditions for the fungus the researchers were studying.

“You need a carbohydrate source for growth, and that has certain amount of protein also, which is needed, and sugar,” said Chakrabarti.

Researchers at UCF are taking the fungus grown at the Oklahoma lab and testing it for its ability to kill the parasite that causes malaria. So far, the team has identified more than 150 compounds that have antimalarial properties, meaning they could be a part of a new drug to fight the disease.

Worldwide, malaria is responsible for 400,000 deaths a year. About 80 percent are children under the age of five.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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