MMV Project of the Year award - 2017

Using biology to help guide the search for new molecules

The discovery team led by Dr Alain Pellet at Sanofi and Dr Didier Leroy at MMV receives MMV’s 2017 Project of the Year award for the identification and development of SAR441121 (shortened to SAR121). The team applied a smart approach to screening guided by biology, which led to the accelerated discovery of this promising molecule.

SAR121, the first antimalarial candidate molecule to be delivered by the team, kills the malaria parasite very quickly, and so may also rapidly reduce malaria symptoms. It has been very difficult to generate parasites that are resistant to SAR121 in the laboratory, which, if replicated in a real-world setting, means the molecule could be one of our strongest weapons in combatting parasite resistance.

The current focus of the team is to show that the molecule is sufficiently well tolerated to be tested in humans. The goal will then be to test it initially in human volunteer infection studies (VIS) in 2018. In addition, the team is working to identify the best partner molecule for a combination therapy.

 → Go to an interview with Dr Alain Pellet, Pharmaceutical Chemistry Team Leader, Sanofi and Dr Didier Leroy, Senior Director, Drug Discovery, MMV. They talk about the partnership and the exciting features of the antimalarial compound SAR121.

Dr Didier Leroy, Senior Director, Drug Discovery, MMV (left) and Dr Alain Pellet, Pharmaceutical Chemistry Team Leader, Sanofi (right).