Malaria

Our company is working to identify and develop new drugs against malaria that can stay ahead of emerging drug resistance to existing treatments.

Highlights

In March 2020 our company announced that we are working with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia on a novel class of candidate antimalarial agents that block multiple stages of the lifecycle of the parasite that causes malaria.

 

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. While malaria is preventable and curable, an estimated 405,000 people died due to malaria in 2018. Children under five years old are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria; in 2018, they accounted for two thirds (272,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide, nearly all of which were in Africa.1

Resistance to antimalarial medicines is a recurring problem. Protecting the efficacy of existing antimalarial medicines and developing new treatments are critical to malaria control and elimination. There is growing resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapies, the latest class of antimalarial treatments recommended by WHO; without new treatments, the spread of multi-drug resistant malaria could undermine malaria control efforts and reverse the significant gains in child survival achieved over the last 20 years (in 2000 there were 723,000 deaths of children under 5).1, 2

To reach WHO’s ambitious targets of reducing malaria incidence and mortality by 90 percent by 2030,3 new treatments with novel mechanisms of action are urgently needed. Our program has the potential to deliver on this important objective.

Our approach

In March, 2020 our company announced that we are working with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia on a novel class of candidate antimalarial agents that block multiple stages of the lifecycle of the parasite that causes the disease. Specifically, together with the Institute, we identified novel dual inhibitors of plasmepsins IX and X (PMIX and PMX), two proteases that are essential to Plasmodium falciparum, the predominant cause of the most severe form of the disease. The research was published in the peer-reviewed journal Cell Host & Microbe.

Given concerns about resistance against existing treatments, these novel inhibitors that act on new targets at multiple stages of the malaria parasite’s lifecycle hold significant potential as drugs for the treatment and prevention of malaria infection.

The collaborative research was funded in part by the Wellcome Trust (UK), National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia) and the Victorian Government (Australia).

We will continue this collaboration to progress the development of these molecules and help address emerging needs in combating malaria.

Working in partnership with others, including: