Novartis says to develop antimalarial treatment with Medicines for Malaria Venture

pharmafile | June 15, 2016 | News story | Research and Development, Sales and Marketing Novartis, antimalarial drug, drug trial 

Swiss pharma major Novartis (NYSE: NVS) said it has partnered with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop an antimalarial compound KAF156. 

KAF156 belongs to a novel class of antimalarial molecules and is one of the first antimalarial drug candidates to enter mid-stage trials in two decades. 

“We anticipate starting the Phase IIb study in the first half of next year,” David Hughes, Novartis’ global program head for established medicines told Pharmafocus over the phone.    

The partnership sets out the terms and conditions for the development of KAF156 and its future availability to patients, the company said in a statement. 

KAF156 is from a class of a dual-acting compound known as imidazolepiperazines (IZPs) that target the parasite at both the liver and blood stage of its reproductive cycle. Pending clinical trial results, the dual antimalarial activity of the IZP compounds may potentially become first-line therapy for the prevention and treatment of malaria, the company said in a statement. 

“The good thing about KAF156 in particular is the mechanism of action, which appears in pre-clinical models to be effective even in resistant strains,” Hughes said. 

Joseph Jimenez, chief executive of Novartis, said: “Partnerships and collaborations like this one with MMV are essential for the development of next generation antimalarials and accelerating efforts to eradicate this deadly disease.”  

Hughes says: “We want to do the trial as quickly as we can, however, realistically it will take a year to a year and a half for us to complete all patients, so we won’t have the data for about two years. 

“We are looking at 2018 possibly even 2019 that will be the end of Phase IIb to move to Phase III”. 

Novartis is looking at conducting a broad-based study in Africa and Asia spanning countries including Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, DRC and South Africa, Hughes said.  

Anjali Shukla

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