Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company, Eisai Co., Ltd, has announced that it has entered into two new joint research agreements for the development of antimalarial medicines.
Malaria is a deadly vector-borne disease that is considered to be transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. According to the World Health Organization, Around 198 million were affected with malaria and led to an estimated 580,000 deaths in 2013.
Most of the current malarial treatments are based on the rapidly-acting artemisinin with lumefantrine. But there were recent reports of increased resistance of malarial parasites to artemisinin. Therefore, scientists are focusing to develop 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.
The second agreement is a joint development program with the non-profit public-private product development partnership Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). Eisai and MMV aim to ultimately 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 optimization of compounds developed by Eisai that inhibit the biosynthesis of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) necessary for the growth of malaria parasites.
Therefore, Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund) has awarded each of these unique projects a grant after reviewing them. Eisai is also actively engaged in several other research collaborations with Brazil's national research agency Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital / MMV, and the Broad Institute to discover and develop new medicines for the treatment of malaria.