Eisai forms joint antimalarial medicine research programmes

Announces partnerships with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine/University of Liverpool and Medicines for Malaria Venture

Japanese pharmaceutical firm Eisai has entered into two joint research agreements for the development of new antimalarial medicines.

The first is a joint development programme with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the University of Liverpool in the UK.

Under this agreement, the three parties will conduct preclinical development of a new tetraoxane-based second generation antimalarial candidate, called E209. Research so far has found that E209 is rapidly acting and shows efficacy against all types of malaria parasites, which means that it could be effective in patients for whom artemisinin-based malaria treatments are ineffective due to resistance.

Eisai also aims to work with these organisations to identify and develop novel drug candidates that eliminate the bacteria Wolbachia, which live inside, and are necessary for the growth and breeding of, parasitic filariae worms that cause lymphatic filariasis and river blindness.

The second agreement is a joint development programme with the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) in Geneva, Switzerland. Under this programme, Eisai and MMV aim to identify antimalarial candidate compounds with novel mechanisms of action that will be effective against malaria parasites resistant to existing treatments, as well as prevent relapse and block transmission to mosquitoes.

This involves the optimisation of compounds developed by Eisai that inhibit the biosynthesis of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) necessary for the growth of malaria parasites, and of a hit series of compounds identified from Eisai's compound library through joint research with MMV.

Malaria treatment currently combines rapidly-acting artemisinins with lumefantrine and other antimalarials for durability. However, in recent years, some strains of malaria have become resistant to artemisinin. Researchers have therefore prioritised the development of a Single Exposure Radical Cure and Prophylaxis (SERCaP), a single-dose drug that would cure patients after one exposure and provide substantial post-treatment protection from relapse as well as block transmission to mosquitoes.

Each of these projects was awarded a grant after review by the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), an international non-profit organisation that aims to promote the discovery of new health technologies for eliminating infectious diseases prevalent in developing world.

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