New trial drug shows promise to cure, prevent malaria in single dose

Researchers across U.S and Australia have discovered a new drug, which though in its trial stage, has showed promise to cure malaria in only one single dose, besides being an effective preventive therapy too.

The new study by Dr. Margaret Phillips who is the professor of Pharmacology at Southwestern showed that DSM265 – the new drug, could fall “among the first single-dose cures for malaria” that can be utilized by partnering with another drug as well.

The research team established that DSM265 kills Plasmodium, the malaria parasite in blood as well liver. Moreover, it also showed hope in preclinical models.

Dr. Phillips said, owing to the evolution of more drug resilience in the parasites, anti-malarial drugs are paving their way out. “What can we do is deliver new medicines with new modes of action and safeguard the longevity of the anti-malarial through use in combination as long as possible,” she added.


Photo Credit: JJ Harrison

At present, the leading anti-malaria treatments are artemisinin-based combination remedies, or ACTs that helps in shrinking the load of malaria on the body. Nevertheless, evidence that malaria has adapted itself to ACTs was reported in Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos.

Dr. Phillips explained that DSM265 could be used in two different ways – one is by partnering it with another novel drug and using the combination remedy as a one-time dose and the other is growing it as a preventive for individuals who either lives in malaria prone environment with poor human immunity or travelling to places that have prevalence of malaria.

However, for either way the consequences of the ongoing and upcoming trials are required that would in turn take many more years.

The research accomplished that DSM265 seemed to be safely endured in non-human tests, besides providing ideal dosing levels and span of drug effectiveness in preclinical representations that guesstimated dosing for humans, thereby making way for clinical trials.

The first clinical trial occurred in a safety analysis in Australia that is followed by the current efficiency analysis in Peru to check if the drug can treat patients with malaria. Further human trials are scheduled by the team with one that will test the drug as a preventive remedy.

In 2008, Dr. Phillips and her research team recognized an inhibitor of an enzyme, which Plasmodium needs for living. Dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) is the enzyme that allowed the parasite to duplicate and expand during infections in humans.

Dr. Phillips and her team discovered a lead drug that was eventually refined to become DSM265 – the first DHODH inhibitor to move to clinical development for treating malaria.

The study has been published in the journal “Science Translational Medicine”.

Malaria kills almost 600,000 people every year across the globe. Of these, children under 5 years of age who lives in sub-Saharan Africa are most affected. Almost 200 million cases of malaria are registered annually, and nearly 3 billion individuals are at risk of malaria in 97 nations.

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