- To discover and develop novel malaria compounds that target both liver stage and blood stage infections.
- To counter first signs of resistance to ACTs.
What are the health needs and challenges?
Malaria is one of the most widespread infectious diseases, and claims the lives of an estimated 627,000 people a year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. A child dies of malaria every 60 seconds in Africa. Almost half the world’s population (3.4 billion) is at risk of contracting malaria. Children and pregnant women are among the most vulnerable. Drug resistance to most common antimalarials is increasing.
Two major malaria-causing organisms are Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax.
Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges
The Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) is collaborating with the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, and Scripps Research Institute to discover and develop new antimalarial compounds that target both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax.
The NITD and its partners are developing a potential one-dose cure for Plasmodium falciparum, and a curative modality for Plasmodium vivax. Two compounds resulting from these drug discovery efforts are currently in Phase II clinical trials, KAE609 and KAF156.
Summary of impact and forward looking information
In 2012, KAE609 (spiroindolone) successfully passed the Proof of Concept (PoC) study. About 20 patients infected by the two main malaria-causing parasites took part in the PoC study conducted in Bangkok and Mae Sot near the Thailand/Burma border where first signs of resistance to current therapies had been reported. In just five years, this compound has moved into Phase 2 clinical trials.
KAF156 is a second new dual-acting class of antimalarial compounds – called imidazolopiperazines – that act on both blood and liver infections. The compound successfully passed the PoC in 2013 and has moved into Phase 2 clinical trials.
In November 2013, Novartis and collaborators announced the discovery of yet another new malaria drug target and a new compound class with potential to prevent, block and treat malaria. Called imidazopyrazines, this is the third new class of malaria compounds discovered by Novartis scientists within the last five years.