Simulations Plus announces success in malaria drug project

Simulations Plus, Inc., a consulting services and software company for pharmaceutical development and discovery, announced on Wednesday that its newest malaria inhibition molecule is three times more potent than its previous best molecule.

The compound was successful at inhibiting the drug-sensitive 3D7 strain of the malaria parasite. The molecule also showed nanomolar activity against three drug-resistant malaria parasite strains. Nanomolar activity is a concentrate expressed in billionths of a mole per liter of fluid necessary to inhibit 50 percent of parasites in a laboratory experiment.

"The results we reported on March 15 showed that of our first five compounds, activity against the drug-sensitive 3D7 strain of the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite was seen in all compounds, with one especially active compound at about a 60 nanomolar level," Robert Clark, the director of life sciences for Simulations Plus, said. "Further testing of the compounds against the drug-resistant strain has now shown that these molecules have activity against that strain as well, although not as potent as for three drug-sensitive strains (about 214 to 467 nanomolar). We have now received one more compound out of synthesis and it is more potent against both the drug-sensitive strain (about 24 nanomolar) and is similar in activity against the three drug-resistant strains (245 to 492 nanomolar)."

Clark said that the compounds will need further development to become drugs because they require modification to be effective in the body.

Walt Woltosz, the chief executive officer and chairman of Simulations Plus, said that the process was an effort to demonstrate that the company's software tools could be used to create lead compounds in a fraction of the time and cost.

"However, having now achieved that goal, we're encouraged to press on with some additional testing on these compounds to identify which enzymes are causing the rapid metabolism so we can consider structural changes to lower the metabolic rate," Woltosz said. "And we're still waiting for two more compounds to come out of synthesis that we predict will be more potent against the malaria parasite."