A first step in the development of a drug that kills all forms of malaria parasite

16 May 2017

BPRC - 1. A first step in the development of a drug that kills all forms of malaria parasite

In the search for new agents against malaria, researchers have identified a new class of small molecules that are active against malaria.

The malaria parasite has a complex life cycle. During this lifecycle, the parasite changes its shape and properties. To test the activity of the new compound against the highly diverse parasite forms a wide range of culture and experimental models for malaria was used.

BPRC researchers contributed to this work by testing the drug in a culture system for activity against both dormant and developing liver parasites. When the in vitro drug test showed cidal effects against both parasite forms, the compound was tested in monkeys.

The drug was found to be active in the prevention of malaria, but it was not effective as cure for malaria. Therefore, the current in vitro drug assay must be further optimized to predict curative effects of compounds against dormant parasites. Nonetheless, the drug was highly effective against all other malaria stages and therefore the compound may be further developed as part of a combination therapy. 

This work is described in the leading scientific journal Science Translational Medicine (http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/9/387/eaad9735.full).