Developing products to address unmet needs

MMV is dedicated to developing new medicines for children and pregnant women, who are at heightened risk of dying from malaria.

Developing better medicines for children

MMV has long recognized that developing better medicines for children helps address the most vulnerable patient population at greatest risk of dying from malaria. In 2019 children under 5 represented 67% of lives lost from the disease. 

Children are not just little adults. They absorb and metabolize medicines differently and need medicines adapted for their weight and age. This is why MMV has worked with partners to develop and bring to market nine child-friendly formulations.

In addition, MMV is working with other organizations as part of the PAMAfrica Consortium to develop the first malaria treatment for babies under 5kg

The challenges of developing medicines for pregnant women

Every year, 125 million pregnancies around the world are at risk from malaria.1 In Africa alone, approximately 10,000 women and 200,000 babies die annually as a consequence.2 Pregnant women have an increased risk of life-threatening outcomes, including cerebral malaria or severe anaemia.3

To diminish the risk of malaria during pregnancy, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a specific chemoprevention strategy, however, its acceptance and use is quite low. 

Developing new drugs for use in pregnant women is extremely challenging. Pregnant women are excluded from trials of new drugs until the risks and benefits are well understood among non-pregnant adults, yet drug dosing can differ between these groups.

Current WHO guidelines allow for the use of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) for women with malaria in the second and third trimester of pregnancy, but not for the first trimester when the foetus is most vulnerable, as there is an absence of key safety data.

Additionally, in the absence of suitable alternatives some malaria experts suggest that ACTs could also be used as chemoprevention in pregnancy, which could lead to the problematic situation of the same medicines being recommended for both chemoprevention and treatment.

Raising the standard of care for pregnant women and their newborns

Key elements of MMV's Malaria in Mothers and Babies (MiMBa) strategy include:

  • Ensuring drug supplies for children and pregnant women;
  • Generating data on existing compounds to inform on their use in pregnant women and neonates; 
  • Developing new antimalarial medicines to address the needs of pregnant women and neonates;
  • Strengthening the capture of safety data from routine clinical use of antimalarial medicines during pregnancy;
  • Advocating for changes in drug development that promote the safe inclusion of pregnant women into clinical studies, with the aim of generating data to support earlier access to innovative medicines for this population.

Learn more about MMV's efforts to increase options for pregnant women at risk of malaria

1. Manyando C et al. “A systematic review of the safety and efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine against uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria during pregnancy.” Malaria J. 11:141 (2012).

2. Dellicour S et al. “Quantifying the number of pregnancies at risk of malaria in 2007: a demographic study.”PLoS Med. 7(1):e1000221 (2010).

3. Schantz-Dunn J & Nour NM. “Malaria and pregnancy: a global health perspective”. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2(3): 186–192 (2009).