New single dose Malaria drug in development

A recently discovered compound from the aminopyridine class, code named MMV390048 has shown potent activity against multiple points in the malaria parasite’s life cycle.

This means that it not only has the potential to become part of a single dose cure, but it might also be able to block transmission of the parasite from person to person. On this basis it was selected by the MMV Expert Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC), for further development, making it the first compound researched on African soil to enter pre-clinical development in partnership with MMV.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), each year between 149 million and 274 million people contract malaria, and about 655,000 people die from it. Here at Medical Specialists News we only reported earlier this month, on how many Britain’s are contracting malaria whilst abroad, due to not taking or not completing an anti-malarial course of medication.

The fact MMV390048 could be part of a single dose cure could prove effective, as current anti-malarial drugs need to be taken before, during and after entering a malaria zone. Malarone for example, needs to be taken two days before entering a malaria zone, for the duration of the holiday and then for seven days after returning home.

However other anti-malarial drugs need to be taken up to three weeks before travel and up to four weeks on return. This is where some Britain’s have slipped up and ended up suffering from malaria, because they have failed to start the course early enough or they have failed to finish the course. Obviously this is where a single dose cure such as MMV390048 could prove invaluable.

The aminopyridine series was initially identified by Griffith University scientists in Australia, as part of MMV’s extensive malaria screening campaign of around 6 million compounds. A team of scientists from the University of Cape Town’s Drug Discovery and Development Centre in South Africa, led by Professor Kelly Chibale, then scrutinised and explored the antimalarial potential of the series further.

With parasitological and pharmacological support from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and Monash University, respectively, Professor Kelly’s team selected the most promising compounds from the series to be optimized and re-tested. In just 18 months the team had identified and developed a candidate, suitable for preclinical development.

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