R&D interviews

New partners in the development of new medicines for malaria

Masahiko Koike, Director, Pharmaceutical Technology R&D Laboratories, Takeda

Takeda recognized the urgent need to contribute to research in the field of infectious diseases, such as malaria. Masahiko Koike explains how the company is contributing to two exciting antimalarial drug projects and what it’s like to work with MMV. (2014)

Dr Robert Wenslow & Alex Chen, Crystal Pharmatech

Goodwill can be contagious

Dr Robert Wenslow, VP Business Development & Alex Chen, Chief Executive Officer, Crystal Pharmatech

Crystal Pharmatech, a Contract Research Organisation based in China, offer their expertise to MMV at a “not-for-profit” price. Dr Robert Wenslow, and Alex Chen explain why they work with MMV and what they have to offer. (2014)

Blocking transmission

Dr Didier Leroy, Director, Drug Discovery, MMV

To reduce the overall burden of malaria we need to be able to stop transmission from person-to-person. Dr Didier Leroy explains the test cascade, developed by MMV and partners, to identify new and in-development molecules with transmission blocking activity. (2013)

Discovering new molecules to target the relapse

Prof Sangeeta Bhatia, Director, Laboratory for Multiscale Regenerative Technologies, MIT

A team led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers has taken a major step towards developing a cost-effective P. vivax cell assay, by developing a system to grow liver tissue that can support the liver stage of both Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax malaria. Prof Sangeeta Bhatia explains her interest in this area of research and how the system works. (2013)

Relapsing Plasmodium vivax

Prof Ric Price, Menzies School of Health Research and Charles Darwin University; and the Centre for Tropical Medicine, University of Oxford

Relapsing Plasmodium vivax malaria results in around 70–80 million clinical infections each year. Prof Ric Price discusses why P. vivax should be a research priority and what tools are needed in order to eradicate it. (2013)

Developing a single-dose malaria cure

Dr Marc Adamy, Director, Product Development, MMV

MMV and partners are working to identify and develop molecules that are fast acting and have a long duration of action for combination into a single-dose cure and first-generation SERCaP. Dr Marc Adamy explains the strategy to accelerate the development of OZ439. (2013)

Developing paediatric medicines

Dr Isabelle Borghini-Fuhrer Director, Product Development, MMV

Children under the age of 5 years are the main victims of malaria, yet few antimalarial medicines have been developed with children’s needs in mind. Dr Isabelle Borghini-Fuhrer Director, Product Development, talks about the progress made and challenges of developing paediatric medicines. (2013)

A step closer to stopping the relapse

Dr Jörg Möhrle, Head of Translational Medicine & Dr Weweka Kaszubska, Vice President, Head of Product Development, MMV

Tafenoquine entered Phase III in April 2014, taking it closer to becoming the only new medicine approved for the treatment of relapsing malaria in over 60 years. Dr Jörg Möhrle & Dr Wiweka Kaszubska talk about the challenges, the partnership and what the future holds. (2013)

The Malaria Box and Pathogen Box

Dr Thomas Spangenberg, Research Scientist, MMV

The Malaria Box was launched in response to the need for access to physical samples of molecules to initiate drug discovery programmes for malaria and neglected diseases. The Pathogen Box is modelled on the success of the Malaria Box. Dr Thomas Spangenberg tells us how the Malaria Box is being used today and what's in store for the Pathogen Box. (2013)

Drug discovery with a difference

Dr Mat Todd, University of Sydney, Australia

In 2011, MMV launched an Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) programme. The programme differs from traditional drug discovery, as all research is reported openly, online and in real-time, allowing the best and the brightest to contribute. Dr Mat Todd, University of Sydney, leads one of these projects. He explains how it works and what the future might hold for open science. (2013)

New tools to accelerate drug development

Prof. James McCarthy, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Berghofer Medical Research Institute

To help expedite the development of promising compounds, MMV is employing innovative new tools. Prof. James McCarthy explains how the Challenge Model is helping to accelerate antimalarial drug development. (2013)

A helping hand from the lab to the clinic

Dr Kennan Marsh, Director, Experimental Sciences, AbbVie Inc. USA

AbbVie, a research-based biopharmaceutical company, has been providing pro bono drug discovery resources and expertise to MMV since 2011. Dr Kennan Marsh, the interface between MMV and AbbVie, talks about the collaboration, compounds and the motivation to get involved. (2013)

Stopping the relapse

Dr Brice Campo, Associate Director, Drug Discovery, MMV

Our goal to eradicate malaria cannot be achieved without new anti-relapse medicines. Dr Brice Campo explains the research challenges presented by P. vivax and MMV’s discovery strategy to stop the relapse. (2012)

Boosting African Research

Dr Michael Witty, Member of MMV's ESAC and Project Mentor

With more than 30 years of pharmaceutical research experience, Dr Michael Witty talks about the support he provides to project MMV390048. (2012)

OSDD powering the pipeline and changing the paradigm

Dr Tanjore Balganesh, Project Head at India's OSDD Initiative

MMV is working closely with India’s Open Source Drug Discovery malaria programme to investigate the most promising compound series, initially for blood-stage malaria. Dr Tanjore Balganesh explains how open source research is taking off in India. (2012)

Populating the pipeline

Prof. Kelly Chibale, Cape Town Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3-D), South Africa

With our sights firmly set on malaria elimination/ eradication, MMV’s discovery work is focused on the need for novel medicines to treat relapsing malaria and block transmission. Prof. Chibale talks about his work to discover and optimize new compounds to help populate MMV’s antimalarial drug pipeline. (2011)

All shots on goal for a single-dose cure

Dr Fiona Macintyre, Associate Director, Translational Medicine, MMV

While ACTs are available and access to them is improving, MMV cannot rest on its laurels, but must continue to innovate and develop better medicines for uncomplicated malaria. Dr Fiona Macintyre tells us about the development plan for OZ439. (2011)

Ensuring safety of new medicines

Dr Stephan Duparc, Chief Medical Officer, MMV

Monitoring post-approval drug safety has become a matter of increasing importance, as it enables us to maximize the safe use of registered medicines. Dr Stephan Duparc explains what pharmacovigilance means for MMV. (2011)

Blocking transmission

Prof. Vicky Avery, Griffith University, Australia

In an infected patient a small proportion of parasites form gametocytes, the sexual form of the parasite. It is these gametocytes, taken up by the mosquito when she feeds, that ultimately allow the parasite to infect the next person. Prof. Vicky Avery talks about her work to develop a new late-stage gametocyte assay to identify compounds that could block the transmission of malaria. (2011)

Researching relapsing P. vivax malaria

Colonel Bagus Tjahjono, Indonesian Army Health Command, Jakarta

Although primaquine is the only approved medicine for radical cure of relapsing malaria, very little is known about how well it works in combination with other medicines that treat the blood-stage infection. Colonel Bagus Tjahjono explains the need for further research on relapsing P. vivax malaria and its treatment. (2011)

Stopping the relapse

Dr Alejandro Llanos, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru

The dormant liverstage form of P. vivax, which can reactivate without warning leading to the feverish symptoms of malaria, remains a challenge to treat. Dr Alejandro Llanos talks about why there is a need for new medicines to treat relapsing malaria in Peru. (2011)

Developing medicines for children

Dr Isabelle Borghini-Fuhrer Director, Clinical Development, MMV

Few antimalarial medicines have been specifically formulated to provide children with age and weight-appropriate doses in a palatable form. Dr Isabelle Borghini-Fuhrer explains the challenges in the development of medicines for children and MMV’s strategy to overcome them. (2011)

Bringing all the right ingredients together

Sigma-Tau, Italy

In 2011 Eurartesim® was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – the first new European antimalarial medicine for over a decade. This is a huge achievement, and takes the medicine a step closer to the patients that so sorely need it. (2011)

The world’s first producer of WHO prequalified artesunate for injection for severe malaria

Guilin Pharmaceutical, China

Guilin Pharmaceutical has been producing intravenous (IV) artesunate for patients with severe malaria since 1987. But without WHO prequalification or stringent regulatory approval, it could not be purchased by international organizations or donor funds. (2011)

OZ439: A winning network of partners

Prof. Jonathan Vennerstrom, Prof. Susan Charman & Dr Sergio Wittlin

The success of the OZ439 project can be attributed to the commitment, enthusiasm and range of scientific expertise of its partners from across the globe. Today, OZ439 is on track to potentially replace artemisinin and become a part of the much-needed one-dose cure for malaria. (2011)

Feeding the drug development pipeline through the discovery of novel chemistry

Dr Thierry Diagana, Novartis Institue for Tropical Diseases, Singapore

NITD is working in close collaboration with MMV to explore new drug discovery approaches for malaria. NITD609, if proven to be well tolerated, will be the first antimalarial not belonging to either the artemisinin or peroxide class to enter clinical efficacy studies in recent years. (2010)

Guiding the development of transmission-blocking medicines

Prof. Robert Sinden, Imperial College, London, UK

Current medicines mostly kill the malaria parasite at the blood stage, but to eradicate malaria, we need to stop the parasite being passed on to the next person via mosquitos. Imperial College London has been working with MMV to turn basic biology into knowledge to underpin the development of new antimalarials. (2010)

A weapon to counter resistance

Dr Jörg Möhrle, Head of Translational Medicine, MMV

OZ439 is a fully synthetic peroxide on track to provide not only a single-dose cure for malaria, but also a potential alternative to currently used artemisinin derivatives. Dr Jörg Möhrle explains this molecule. (2010)

A long-standing collaboration

Shin Poong Pharmaceutical, South Korea

MMV and Shin Poong have worked together since 1999 to develop Pyramax®. This new once daily, 3-day treatment for uncomplicated P. falciparum and blood stage P. vivax malaria in infants, children and adults is awaiting regulatory approval by the European Medicines Agency. (2010)

DHODH: Academic brain meets industrial muscle

Dr Meg Phillips, University of Texas Southwestern, USA

The enzyme DHODH is one the hottest malaria drug targets under investigation today. This project was awarded MMV’s 2010 Project of the Year in recognition of its impressive progress to rapidly bring these inhibitors towards clinical testing. (2010)

Overcoming the challenges of conducting clinical trials in India

Dr Neena Valecha, The National Institute of Malaria Research, India

NIMR is India’s premier malaria research institute, carrying out studies on drug resistance, and Phase II/ III trials of new drugs. Conducting clinical trials in India is a challenge but MMV and NIMR have had a successful partnership. (2009)

Delivering good, affordable drugs to those in need

Prof. Bruno Gryseels & Prof. Umberto D’Alessandro, ITM, Belgium

ITM provides postgraduate training for medical doctors and paramedics – a number of whom are headed for central Africa. Collaboration between MMV and ITM focuses on the development and trial of new antimalarials. (2010)