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Novartis develops novel antimalarial drug

A partnership led by Novartis has developed a new antimalarial drug candidate offering a novel way to treat strains of the disease resistant to current drugs

A development partnership led by Novartis has discovered a new antimalarial drug candidate offering a novel way to treat strains of the disease resistant to current drugs.

Citing recently published research in the journal Science, the Swiss company said the drug, spiroindolone NITD609, is effective against both strains of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) and Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax).

The drug is said to have "the potential to rapidly clear a Plasmodium infection upon administration of a single oral dose."

Spiroindolone-based treatments have the ability to kill the blood stages of the malaria parasites.

Spiroindolone NITD609 was developed by the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD), in collaboration with researchers from the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF). Other organisations in the research partnership include the Scripps Research Institute and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, with further support from the Wellcome Trust, Medicines for Malaria Venture and the US Government.

New treatments for malaria are needed, with increased tolerance towards recently adopted classes of treatment reported.

"Malaria remains a scourge," said Mark Fishman, president, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. "The parasite has demonstrated a frustrating ability to outwit new medicines, from quinine to today's unsettling increased tolerance to artemisinin derivatives. We are delighted that our scientists could provide this potential new malaria therapy, based on an unprecedented chemical structure and directed to a novel target."

Further evaluation of the drug candidate is currently ongoing.

6th September 2010

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