A joint research program is ongoing at the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and Scripps Research Institute to discover the next generation of antimalarial drugs.
The program is funded by the Welcome Trust, the Development Board of Singapore and the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV).
In 2010, the research led to a promising new drug candidate for the treatment of malaria which began a phase 2 clinical trial during 2011. Even if these tests are successful, the route to regulatory approval could take up to eight years. This compound is the first in a new class called spiroindolones and kills the blood stages of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax through a mechanism of action that is different from existing antimalarial drugs.1
Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases
The Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) is dedicated to researching novel treatments for major tropical diseases including malaria.
The compound has demonstrated great antimalarial potential and pharmacokinetic properties suitable for a once-daily oral dose.1
Recognized for its potential as a next generation treatment for malaria, this new compound received the MMV “Project of the Year Award 2009.” 2
In 2011, the same group announced the discovery of a new dual-acting class of antimalarial compounds – called imidazolopiperazines – that act on both blood and liver infections, and could become the first class to prevent and treat malaria if it can be confirmed in clinical trials.3 The results and methodology of this successful study have been released to the public domain with the aim of facilitating global discovery efforts.
And just recently Novartis and collaborators identified a new malaria drug target and a new compound class with potential to prevent, block and treat malaria. This is the third new class of malaria compounds discovered by Novartis scientists within the last five years.
- Falade C, Makanga M, Premji Z, Ortmann CE, Stockmeyer M, De Palacios PI. Efficacy and safety of artemether-lumefantrine (Coartem) tablets (six-dose regimen) in African infants and children with acute, uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 2005; 99(6):459-467.
- van Vugt M, Wilairatana P, Gemperli B, Gathmann I, Phaipun L, Brockman A et al. Efficacy of six doses of artemether-lumefantrine (benflumetol) in multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Am J Trop Med Hyg 1999; 60(6):936-942.
- Imaging of Plasmodium liver stages to drive next generation antimalarial drug discovery. Science Express, Nov. 17, 2011