Source: Financial Times and SwissInfo.ch
By Clive Cookson and Science Editor
The first new malaria drug to emerge for 20 years is beginning clinical trials in nine countries across Africa and Asia. KAF156 could be “a game changer”, its developers say, at a time when the malaria parasite is evolving resistance to existing treatments.
Novartis, the Swiss drug company, has developed KAF156 in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), a public-private partnership, and charities including the Wellcome Trust and Gates Foundation.
Research suggests that the new medicine quickly clears malaria infection, including resistant strains, and blocks transmission of the parasite, said Vas Narashimhan, Novartis head of drug development.
About 500 adults and children suffering from malaria will take part in the trial over the next couple of years in two Asian and seven African countries.
They will receive various doses of KAF156 combined with an old antimalarial called lumefantrine. Results will be compared with a combination therapy based on artemisinins, which are the best antimalarials available today but are becoming less effective as resistance increases.
“To build on the gains made against malaria since the turn of the century, we need new medicines that are effective across all types of resistance patterns and geographies, and that are easy to administer, especially to children,” said David Reddy, MMV chief executive.