Hitting for the cycle

Diversity-oriented chemistry expands the malaria drug universe

Driven by the need for antimalarial drugs that hit all stages of the life cycle of the malaria parasite, a group at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has constructed and screened a diverse library of molecules based on 3-D motifs found in natural compounds, and identified a lead molecule that represents a new scaffold against a new target in the disease.

The compound, BRD7929, produced single-dose cures in mice and was described this month in Naturein a study ledby Stuart Schreiber, a founding member of the Broad Institute. Schreiber was also a founder of several biotech companies, including Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Infinity Pharmaceuticals Inc.

The Broad Institute has partnered with Eisai Co. Ltd., which is providing funding and collaborating on work to identify a clinical candidate. The partners have no formal agreement about the future ownership or development of the compounds.

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium falciparum, which infects humans during the asexual stage of its life cycle, during which it doesn't cause symptoms. When the parasite enters the bloodstream,

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