MMV and Merck Serono join forces in antimalarial drug discovery

The collaboration focuses on optimising long-acting compounds

24 Feb 2014

Leveraging its internal assets, in 2013, Merck Serono joined the fight against malaria by signing a partnership agreement with MMV. The partnership aims to meet the urgent need for long-acting antimalarial compounds through a lead optimization programme.

The team is working on a chemical series that has shown significant antimalarial potential. The series has a unique profile as the compounds are long-acting and have demonstrated high potency in in vitro and in vivo preclinical malaria models. The team plans to identify a potential candidate drug from the series for further safety analysis towards the end of 2014.

This programme was successfully evaluated by MMV’s External Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC) during its annual meeting, in Cape Town, July 2013. It also created much excitement among the malaria community when presented at the 11th Malaria Meeting organized by the German Society for Tropical Medicine and International Health and the German Society for Parasitology, November 2013.

“This is a really exciting series,” said Jeremy Burrows, Head of Discovery at MMV. “There are still challenges ahead but the molecules are long-acting, which means they could provide protection from re-infection even after the first episode of malaria has been cured.”