Parasite-Host Dynamics throughout Antimalarial Drug Development Stages Complicate the Translation of Parasite Clearance

18 Mar 2021

Burgert L, Zaloumis S, Dini S, Marquart L, Cao P, Cherkaoui M, Gobeau N, McCarthy J, Simpson JA, Möhrle JJ, Penny MA

Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
PMID: 33526486

Doi: 10.1128/AAC.01539-20

Photo: gerasimov_foto_174/Shutterstock.com

Ensuring continued success against malaria depends on a pipeline of new antimalarials. Antimalarial drug development utilizes preclinical murine and experimental human malaria infection studies to evaluate drug efficacy. A sequential approach is typically adapted, with results from each stage informing the design of the next stage of development. The validity of this approach depends on confidence that results from murine malarial studies predict the outcome of clinical trials in humans. Parasite clearance rates following treatment are key parameters of drug efficacy. To investigate the validity of forward predictions, we developed a suite of mathematical models to capture parasite growth and drug clearance along the drug development pathway and estimated parasite clearance rates. When comparing the three infection experiments, we identified different relationships of parasite clearance with dose and different maximum parasite clearance rates. In -NMRI mouse infections, we estimated a maximum parasite clearance rate of 0.2 (1/h); in -SCID mouse infections, 0.05 (1/h); and in human volunteer infection studies with , we found a maximum parasite clearance rate of 0.12 (1/h) and 0.18 (1/h) after treatment with OZ439 and MMV048, respectively. Sensitivity analysis revealed that host-parasite driven processes account for up to 25% of variance in parasite clearance for medium-high doses of antimalarials. Although there are limitations in translating parasite clearance rates across these experiments, they provide insight into characterizing key parameters of drug action and dose response and assist in decision-making regarding dosage for further drug development.

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