The details of the discovery, properties and mechanism of the new anti-malarial drug, DDD107498, have been published in the journal Nature and the single dose treatment will soon replace the current treatment. The compound was developed by the University of Dundee’s Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV).
“The publication describes the discovery and profiling of this exciting new compound,” said Prof. Ian Gilbert of the Drug Discovery Unit. “It reveals that DDD107498 has the potential to treat malaria with a single dose, prevent the spread of malaria from infected people, and protect a person from developing the disease in the first place. There is still some way to go before the compound can be given to patients,” he said.
MMV’s CEO David Reddy said, “Malaria continues to threaten almost half of the world’s population – the half that can least afford it.” He said the new compound holds promise, he said explaining MMV’s network of scientists from Melbourne to San Diego to develop the treatment.
Dr Kevin Read of the Drug Discovery Unit at Dundee, said even the gold-standard drug now has faced resistence and the new drug has immense potential to work against current drug-resistant parasites. “It targets part of the machinery that makes proteins within the parasite that causes malaria,” he said.
“The need for new antimalarial drugs is more urgent than ever before, with emerging strains of the parasite now showing resistance against the best available drugs,” added Michael Chew from the Wellcome Trust, the fund provider for the Dundee DDU and MMV project.
“These strains are already present at the Myanmar-Indian border and it’s a race against time to stop resistance spreading to the most vulnerable populations in Africa.”
According to the WHO, 200 million clinical cases of malaria were reported in 2013, with 584,000 of them succubing to the diesease and most of them were children under the age of 5 or pregnant women.
The University of Dundee team has been working with MMV since 2009 and tested a collection of around 4,700 compounds and in October 2013, MMV selected DDD498 to enter pre-clinical trials. Since then, with MMV, it has been carrying out other clinical trials for further safety before testing on humans next year.
Merck Serono has obtained rights to sell the drug commercially once it is through all the clinical stages and approvals. MMV has nine new drugs in clinical development addressing malaria, including medicines for children, pregnant women and relapsing malaria, and drugs that could support the elimination or eradication agenda, said the firm in a statement.