The international team led by Drexel University's Akhil Vaidya stated that they have discovered a new class of drug compounds that inhibits the malaria parasites' ability to maintain adequate levels of sodium within their cells, leading to excessive water intake, CBS News reported.
Malaria is the world's deadliest parasitic disease. It is caused by Plasmodium parasites that spread to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes, causing symptoms including chills, fever, vomiting, seizures and sweating.
Every year, there are 300 million cases of malaria and 600,000 people die annually. It long has been a scourge among developing countries Africa, Asia and Latin America but in recent years it is turning up in places like the United States, thanks in part to climate change.
One of the biggest challenges for treating malaria is drug-resistance.
Vaidya also acknowledged that it will still be years before his team's compound actually leads to a new anti-malaria drug. But of the millions of compounds he and his team screened in search for a viable lead, this was the one with the most potential.
The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.