African antimalarial research bears first fruit

Promising new compound becomes the first stemming from an African–MMV collaboration to enter preclinical development

A recently discovered compound from the aminopyridine class, code named MMV390048, caused quite a stir at the MMV Expert Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC) meeting in Toulouse, France. The compound shows potent activity against multiple points in the malaria parasite’s lifecycle. This means that it not only has the potential to become part of a single-dose cure but might also be able to block transmission of the parasite from person to person. On this basis it was selected by MMV’s ESAC for further development – making it the first compound researched on African soil to enter preclinical development in partnership with MMV.

The aminopyridine series was initially identified by Griffith University scientists in Australia as part of MMV’s extensive malaria screening campaign of around 6 million compounds. A team of scientists from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3-D) in South Africa, led by Prof. Kelly Chibale then scrutinised and explored the antimalarial potential of the series further. With parasitological and pharmacological support from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and Monash University, respectively, Kelly’s team selected the most promising compounds from the series to be optimized and re-tested. In just 18 months the team had identified and developed a candidate suitable for preclinical development.

“We are very excited that this promising compound, researched by African scientists, has been selected by MMV for further development,” said Prof. Kelly Chibale, Founder and Director, UCT H3-D. “This is truly a proud day for African science and African scientists! Our team is hopeful that the compound will emerge from rigorous testing as an extremely effective medicine for malaria – a disease that accounts for 24% of total child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.1

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via Medicines for Malaria Venture
 

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