Malaria is a disease of the blood that is caused by the plasmodium parasite and is transmitted from one person to another through the bite of a particular type of mosquito, the Anopheles mosquito. This mosquito releases the parasite into the blood stream of humans via a bite. Malaria is an infectious disease suffered in tropical countries and is manifested by fever along with chills and rigors.
Unless it is diagnosed and treated properly, malaria can become severe and have fatal consequences. It is ranked among top 5 deadliest diseases in Africa. Malaria was eliminated in the US in the early 1950s, but still has a record of between 1,500 to 2,000 cases on an average yearly.
The Journey To H3-D
Professor Kelly Chibale joined the University of Cape Town (UTC) in 1996 as a lecturer and became a full Professor of organic chemistry in 2007. In 2010, Prof Chibale founded the Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3-D) at the university. He is also a full member of the UCT institute of infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM). He is a Tier 1 South Africa Research chair in Drug Discovery, founding director of the Medical Research Council (MRC). Professor Chibale founded two Drug Discovery centers in the University of Cape Town to develop medicines to treat endemic African diseases.
Kelly struggled at the beginning of his academic career, he attended three different primary schools and had to rewrite his final examinations in order to attend secondary school in Kasama, Zambia. At the end of his secondary school education he wasn’t successful when he applied to study accounting at the University. This triggered him to sit back and reconsider his options, this was the genesis of his chemistry career.
He remembered he had passion for chemical reactions and color changes, this triggered him to decide to take a path to the chemical world instead. His passion for chemistry and organic chemistry elevated during his undergraduate days at the University of Zambia (UNZA). He was fascinated by the logic of organic chemistry and the method at which synthetic organic chemistry can be used to create new molecules. He went on to get a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of Cambridge, England.
What Is H3-D?
H3-D is an organization that aims to bridge the gap between basic and clinical studies. It is the first of its kind in Africa. It trains a new generation of African scientists giving them ample skills and competence in the relevant Drug Discovery areas.
UCT943: The End Of Malaria?
UCT943 is a compound which is been developed and has been discovered and described to have a potent activity against all stages of the malaria parasite life cycle and also has the potential to block transmission of the parasite from person to person.
UCT943 is currently being developed by scientists at H3-D. Professor Kelly Chibale says UCT943 could contribute immensely to malaria eradication. He estimates pre-clinical assessment of the new compound to take 18 months. H3-D’s new compound could speed up the process of eradicating the malaria parasite in Africa as was done in Europe.
Challenges Encountered Along The Way To Success
Regardless of the success he has attained in the world of organic chemistry, Kelly admits that he faced challenges during his undergraduate days at UNZA, where he had limited infrastructures and so didn’t get much exposure to practical chemistry techniques and equipments. As a result of this, he didn’t feel adequately ready for his post-graduate research studies.