A new lead in malaria
A consortium of researchers led by the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases has identified a potent new class of antimalarials that could provide a much needed safeguard against parasites resistant to the largely artemisinin-based armamentarium of malaria drugs. The consortium's experience suggests that directly screening in whole parasites-instead of first identifying a potential drug target-may be the most effective path to discovering new compounds.
Novartis AG hopes to begin a Phase I trial of the lead compound as early as year end.
In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) began recommending artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) as first-line therapy for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malarial infection. The move was a response to the spread of parasites resistant to chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine.1