AFRICA – Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) in partnership with global drug manufacturing giant Novartis, have reported positive phase 2b study results for novel non-artemisinin combination to treat uncomplicated malaria.

The study which was conducted in children below the age of 12 involved the use of ganaplacide/lumefantrine combination therapy and provides support for continued development of the combination.

The world needs a diversified pipeline of anti-malarial medicines, especially as we are faced with emerging resistance to current treatments,” said Sujata Vaidyanathan, Head Global Health Development Unit, Novartis.

Malaria, the oldest of these diseases, dates back to the time of the dinosaurs and continues to have a devastating impact on people’s lives.

Each day, it deprives thousands of young people of a future. Among the 400,000 deaths from malaria recorded in 2019, two-thirds were children under the age of five, and almost all lived in Africa.

Mosquitoes and the malaria parasite have survived as long as they have by constantly adapting to new conditions. Now, growing drug and insecticide resistance in the Sub-Saharan Africa threatens to weaken the current tools for prevention and treatment, including artemisinin-based therapies.

Some potentially game-changing innovations have emerged in recent years. With further development, these could (once again) transform the fight against malaria.

The Medicines for Malaria Venture is bringing together leading pharmaceutical companies to speed up the drug development process as researchers at Target Malaria conduct trials of gene drives to reduce or eliminate Anopheles mosquitos’ malaria-carrying capacity at the species level.

While there is still a long way to go, it is worth noting that these advances would have been unimaginable not long ago. Moreover, the rapid development of vaccines against COVID-19 has strengthened the case for increased investment in innovation to tackle other deadly diseases.

The World Health Organisation-backed RTS,S vaccine, manufactured by GSK, is already being piloted in three African countries and has recently been shown to reduce severe malaria cases and deaths among young children by 70% when combined with seasonal malaria chemoprevention.

In addition to these milestones, BioNTech announced that it will pursue development of an mRNA vaccine against malaria, following the platform’s unprecedented success in developing vaccines against COVID-19.

This is a truly exciting step forward in the development of next-generation antimalarials,” said Dr David Reddy, CEO of MMV, regarding the positive trial results.


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