Researchers have developed a new, long-acting malaria drug that they believe may help fight disease. Griffith University scientists have identified a potent agent that thwarts drug resistance in the parasite that causes the disease. The team is reporting the effectiveness of DSM265, a long-acting inhibitor for the treatment and prevention of malaria and which kills Plasmodium falciparum in the blood and liver.
Researchers Vicky Avery and Sandra Duffy are part of a scientific collaboration that has declared DSM265 a potential drug combination partner for either single-dose malaria treatment or once weekly doses for ongoing disease prevention.
Malaria kills around 600,000 people each year, mostly children from sub-Saharan Africa, and while treatment and insect control programs have been implemented over many years, increasing resistance in Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax parasites in particular means current drugs are not fully effective.
According to the paper, continued progress in combating malaria requires development of new and easy to administer drug combinations with broad-ranging activity against all manifestations of the disease.
By attacking Plasmodium’s ability to synthesise the nucleotide precursors required for the synthesis of DNA and RNA, the scientists say DSM265 has advantages over current treatment options that are dosed daily or are inactive against the parasite liver stage.
DSM265 is a triazolopyrimidine-based inhibitor of the pyrimidine biosynthetic enzyme dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH). It is the first DHODH inhibitor to reach clinical development for treatment of malaria.
Avery noted that having compounds which are working through new mechanisms is critical for overcoming the ever growing concerns with drug resistance.
The study is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.