MMV Project of the Year 2019

MMV Project of the Year 2019

MMV’s Project of the Year 2019 is awarded to a discovery team led by Dr Thierry Diagana at the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) and Dr Brice Campo, Senior Director, Drug Discovery at MMV, for delivering a promising new and ‘irresistible’ preclinical candidate, INE963. The compound is ‘irresistible’ in the sense that it has not been possible to generate resistance to it in the laboratory.

New medicines are urgently needed to fight drug resistance

Decreased activity of artesunate and new resistance to partner drugs in artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), has led to treatment failures with some ACTs in South East Asia1.

New medicines with novel mechanisms of action are thus urgently needed. These should have a low propensity to select for resistance, otherwise their lifespan once deployed in the field will be limited. Experience with ACTs shows that the last day of a 3-day course is often not taken, and this brings two risks. First, the obvious risk is to the patient, who does not receive a full course of treatment, but the second hidden risk is to the drug, since this behaviour increases the probability of resistant parasites developing.

INE963, a next generation, reduced-dose combination therapy

MMV has had a collaboration with Novartis over the last 15 years through the NITD, which recently relocated from Singapore to San Francisco. INE963, approved as a preclinical candidate by MMV’s ESAC2 in 2019 is now the third clinical candidate that has come from the NITD group. It is a very exciting molecule with a number of extremely desirable properties that could make it a potent weapon for combatting resistance as part of a next generation, reduced-dose combination therapy.


1. World Health Organization, Q&A on artemisinin resistance, August, 2020 

2. Expert Scientific Advisory Committee : an external body of experts that helps to identify the best projects worthy of inclusion in MMV’s portfolio and continues to monitor progress through an annual review of all projects.