Indena, Italian producer of plant-derived active ingredients, has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work on a strategic project to improve new potential antimalarial therapies for children in disease-endemic countries.
The Italian company will work on a feasibility study using their proprietary technology to improve paediatric formulations of two antimalarial compounds from the portfolio of Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), in order to potentially improve their bioavailability.
It has been challenging to develop suitable oral formulations for the two compounds in question, and it is hoped the new technology will help overcome these challenges.
MMV is a product development partnership in the field of antimalarial drug research and development. It was established as a foundation in 1999 with a mission to reduce the burden of malaria in disease-endemic countries by discovering, developing and facilitating delivery of new, effective and affordable antimalarial drugs.
Today, MMV manages the largest portfolio of antimalarial R&D projects ever assembled with its partners and counts the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among its long-standing partners and donors.
According to the WHO World Malaria Report 2019, malaria remains a public health imperative. In 2018, 405,000 deaths were estimated worldwide and 67% of the deaths occurred in children younger than 5 years. Furthermore, 11 million pregnant women exposed to malarial infections delivered around 872,000 children with low birthweight.
One of the biggest challenges in developing new antimalarials is to make sure that they have high bioavailability and to minimise the variability seen between different patients. For the two compounds in question, difficulties in getting the drugs absorbed, and high variability, has, to date, prevented them from being tested further in clinical development.
“We’re very happy and proud to be part of such an important project devoted to improve pharmaceutical tools against malaria and to help people to have better health conditions in Africa and other countries,” said Daniele Giavini, Managing Director at Indena.