Comparative Susceptibility of Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium falciparum Field Isolates to Reference and Lead Candidate Antimalarial Drugs in Ghana
Malaria treatments resulted in the decline of the deadliest Plasmodium falciparum globally while species, such as P. ovale, infections have been increasingly detected across sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, no experimental drug sensitivity data are available to guide effective treatment and management of P. ovale infections, which is necessary for effective malaria elimination. We conducted a prospective study to evaluate P. ovale epidemiology over 1 year and determined ex vivo susceptibility of the field isolates to existing and lead advanced discovery antimalarial drugs. We report that while P. falciparum dominated both symptomatic and asymptomatic malaria cases, P. ovale in mono or co-infections caused 7.16% of symptomatic malaria. Frontline antimalarials artesunate and lumefantrine inhibited P. ovale as potently as P. falciparum. Chloroquine, which has been withdrawn in Ghana, was also highly inhibitory against both P. ovale and P. falciparum. In addition, P. ovale and P. falciparum displayed high susceptibility to quinine, comparable to levels observed with chloroquine. Pyrimethamine, which is a major drug for disease massive prevention, also showed great inhibition of P. ovale, comparable to effects on P. falciparum. Furthermore, we identified strong inhibition of P. ovale using GNF179, a close analogue of KAF156 imidazolopiperazines, which is a novel class of antimalarial drugs currently in clinical phase II testing. We further demonstrated that the Plasmodium phosphatidylinositol-4-OH kinase (PI4K)-specific inhibitor, KDU691, is highly inhibitory against P. ovale and P. falciparum field isolates. Our data indicated that existing and lead advanced discovery antimalarial drugs are suitable for the treatment of P. ovale infections in Ghana.
IMPORTANCE Current malaria control and elimination tools such as drug treatments are not specifically targeting P.ovale. P. ovale can form hypnozoite and cause relapsing malaria. P. ovale is the third most dominant species in Africa and requires radical cure treatment given that it can form liver dormant forms called hypnozoites that escape all safe treatments. The inappropriate treatment of P. ovale would sustain its transmission in Africa where the medical need is the greatest. This is a hurdle for successful malaria control and elimination. Here, we provided experiment data that were lacking to guide P. ovale treatment and disease control policy makers using reference antimalarial drugs. We also provided key experimental data for 2 clinical candidate drugs that can be used for prioritization selection of lead candidate’s identification for clinical development.
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