TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

New drug from Novartis could help address artemisinin resistance in malaria

New developments published by Novartis on Wednesday showed a new drug called cipargamin could serve as an alternate treatment for malaria.

According to clinical results, KAE609-known as cipargamin-worked to rapidly clear malaria-causing parasitic infection. Twenty-one people in Thailand who were infected with one of two malaria-causing parasites took part in the Novartis study, which showed rapid parasite clearance in adult patients-more than 50 percent in less than an hour, the New England Journal of Medicine reports.

"KAE609 is a potential game-changing therapy in the fight against malaria," Thierry Diagana, the head of the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD), which aims to discover novel treatments and prevention methods for major tropical diseases, said, according to a Novartis press release. "Novartis has given KAE609 priority project status because of its unique potential of administering it as a single-dose combination therapy."

Health officials have been working to combat malaria that is increasingly resistant to artemisinin, the main drug used to treat the disease, which, according to the World Health Organization, caused an estimated 627,000 deaths in 2012.

"The growing menace of artemisinin resistance threatens our current antimalarial treatments, and therefore our attempts to control and eliminate falciparum malaria," Nick White, a professor of tropical medicine at Thailand's Mahidol University and lead author of the study, said. "This is why we are so enthusiastic about KAE609; it is the first new antimalarial drug candidate with a completely novel mechanism of action to reach Phase 2 clinical development in over 20 years."

Novartis said it will work to introduce the drug to the market by 2018, Bloomberg reports.