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DesignMedix, a Portland-based biotech start-up, has won $3 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop and make a low-cost cure for drug-resistant malaria.The company, with close ties to Portland State University's chemistry department, specializes in developing drugs that overcome drug resistance.
DesignMedix will share the three-year grant with the chemistry lab of Portland State professor David Peyton, who invented the technology behind the anti-malarial drug and co-founded the company six years ago.
According to company president Sandra Shotwell, more than 600,000 children under the age of five die of malaria each year, more than die from any other disease.
The drug the company is developing, DM1157, is a low-cost cure for malaria that can replace chloroquine, a frontline drug that was used for many years until rendered ineffective by drug resistance, she said.