With the rapid emergence of multi-drug resistant strains of malaria, the need to find new drugs capable of delaying or preventing drug resistance has become even more urgent.
Now, an international team of researchers – including two from the University of South Florida – has discovered a promising new antimalarial drug that inhibits the production of a protein involved in the replication and transmission of the malaria parasite. If successfully developed, the new drug working in combination with an existing fast-acting antimalarial may be less likely to develop rapid resistance to major strains of malaria parasites.
Dr. Dennis Kyle, Distinguished University Health Professor, and Dr. Anupam Pradhan, a research associate, both from the USF College of Public Health department of global health, were among the co-authors of the multisite preclinical study published June 18 in the journal Nature. The study was led by researchers at the University of Dundee Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery.
The USF researchers demonstrated in a mouse model of malaria that the new drug candidate, known as DDD107498, helped block the spread of the parasitic disease with greater effectiveness than current antimalarial combination drugs. Their work was supported by a grant from Medicines for Malaria Venture.
In various preclinical studies the potent drug proved highly effective and safe while demonstrating a broad spectrum of antimalarial activity against several life-cycle stages of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. This ability to kill parasites without harmful or bothersome side effects at all stages of a complex malaria lifecycle – after the parasites enter the bloodstream through the bite of bloodstream, once they infect the liver and as soon as the modified parasites emerge from the liver to attack red blood cells – will be critical in eradicating malaria.
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