A new long-duration drug with broad activity against malaria parasites

24 July 2015

BPRC - 1. A new long-duration drug with broad activity against malaria parasites

Malaria continues to kill up to 580.000 people each year, the majority being children under 5 years old. An effective vaccine is still lacking, and therefore efforts to combat the disease focus on insecticide-treated bed nets and drugs. Unfortunately, these efforts are threatened by emerging resistance of the parasite to current therapies.

To reduce the potential emergence of resistance, new therapies are being developed as combination treatments. In a worldwide collaborative effort, a group of malaria researchers identified and analysed the characteristics of a new drug (DSM265). The drug blocks the formation of nucleotides required for RNA and DNA synthesis. The researchers demonstrated that DSM265 is active against different malaria parasite forms in the blood and liver. BPRC scientists tested the compound in their in vitro assay (http://www.bprc.nl/en/article/a-new-method-for-testing-the-activity-of-drugs-against-dormant-malaria-parasites) and showed that the compound is effective against developing liver stage parasites, but not against dormant malaria parasites and therefore most likely it cannot be used against all human malaria parasites.

The predicted drug half-life in humans is more than 100 hours. This means that it may be used as a single-dose or once-weekly treatment, a favourable characteristic for patient compliance. The results of this work are published in the leading journal Science Translational Medicine. While the study predicts a desirable outcome in humans, the full potential of DSM265 as a drug to treat malaria will depend on the results of the safety and efficacy evaluation of this compound in humans.