MMV awards Project of the Year 2020 to Professor David Fidock and team for critical contribution to malaria drug resistance profiling

Team recognized for transformational impact on MMV’s resistance work over past decade, which is today supporting compound prioritization.  

18 Dec 2020

At this year’s MMV Discovery Enabling Biology review meeting on the 30th of Novemberthe discovery team led by Prof. David Fidock, Columbia University and Dr Didier Leroy, MMV, was presented with the 2020 Project of the Year award. The award, selected by MMV’s independent Expert Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC) each year, highlights both the importance and quality of the project, in which potential new antimalarials are profiled tdetermine their propensity to select for resistance, and the characterization of such resistance, before progressing to human studies 

The profiling aims to anticipate in the laboratory if and how resistance would occur imalaria patients. This enables an early risk assessment of drug candidates from a resistance perspective and streamlines identification of compounds that are predicted to be suitable for further researchThe impact of this project on the MMV portfolio has been significant; over the past ten years, the team has profiled over 180 compounds from MMV and partners and contributed to the discovery of 18 new modes of action and resistance.  

The team has also contributed to MMV’s work by advancing our knowledge of the resistance mechanisms of key antimalarialsuch as the historical drugs chloroquine and piperaquine, as well as artemisinin, the main component of artemisinin-based combination therapies (a first-line treatment for acute, uncomplicated malaria in approximately 80 countries) 

“Over the past 12 years I’ve had the great privilege and pleasure of working closely with MMV on the vital goal of defining resistance risks associated with new candidate antimalarials, said Prof. Fidock. “Together our team has enhanced current knowledge of resistance mechanisms and drug modes of action through genetic and genomic studies, allowing for the prioritization of potential new medicines. MMV is an exceptional organization comprised of highly skilled, passionate and dedicated experts focused on a mission of global importance. It’s an honor to receive, on behalf of my research group, this year’s Project of the Year award." 

Malaria-related mortality has significantly decreased over the past 20 years thanks to several interventions, including artemisinin-based combination therapies,” said Dr. Leroy. “Looking ahead, resistance to these medicines will be one of the malaria community’s toughest challenges. This is why I am proud to work on progressing next generation medicines through the discovery pipeline.”