Does Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) Have The Solution For Malaria?

Results for a potentially game-changing proof of concept study were just published concerning malaria by Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) in the New England Journal of Medicine. The results show that KAF156, a new antimalarial compound, has demonstrated activity in opposition to both falciparum and vivax malaria and artemisinin-resistant parasites.

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Malaria, A Life Threatening Disease

Malaria is a mosquito-borne life-threatening disease caused primarily by the parasites plasmodium falciparum and plasmodium vivax. The disease affects humans and other animals caused by parasitic protozoans, transmitted to humans through the bites of mosquitoes infected by anopheles. The symptoms usually begin 10 to 15 days after being bitten. If not treated properly, those who have incurred the disease may have recurrences after a few months. Nearly half a million people, primarily children, die of the disease every year.

Coartem, a kind of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), is primarily used and is currently the standard of care to help fight falciparum infections. Consequently, the growing resistance to artemisinin and weakening partner drug efficacy in Southeast Asia is weakening global control of plasmodium falciparum malaria. This is the reason why pharmaceutical companies need to manufacture new drugs for the disease.

KAF156: A Potential Revolutionary Therapy To Fight Malaria

KAF156 is the first compound from a novel class of drugs called imidazole piperazines. The said compound’s action mechanism is still being characterized but is foreseen to be related to a gene that was previously uncharacterized. This gene is said to be called Plasmodium falciparum cyclic amine resistance locus, Pfcarl. KAF156 could soon become a component of a combination regimen that will be used to treat malaria. This is in line with the guidance of WHO wherein antimalarials be co-formulated to mitigate the risk of parasite resistance development.

A phase II, open-label, two-part study was conducted in five centers in Vietnam and Thailand from March until August 2013. The study was conducted to assess KAF156 in adult patients who have malaria. The study conducted used 10 patients who have p. falciparium malaria and 11 patients who have p. vivax malaria.

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