Possible Malaria Cure on the Horizon?

A new drug currently in testing, DSM265, may be exhibiting all the signs of a potential cure and preventative treatment for malaria – in a single dose.

A new drug currently in testing, DSM265, may be exhibiting all the signs of a potential cure and preventative treatment for malaria — in a single dose.

A team of researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center, the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Australia, the University of Washington, and the not-for-profit organization Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) reported their study results in Science Translational Medicine.

The first clinical trial (in non-humans) in Australia focused on studying the safety of this potential treatment before testing its efficacy in a separate study in Peru. Next steps include human studies, especially to test the drug as a preventative agent.

DSM265 was mainly found to destroy drug-resistant malaria parasites (Plasmodium) in the liver and blood by specifically honing in on their replicating capabilities.

Margaret Phillips, MD, Professor of Pharmacology, UT Southwestern, said, “DSM265 could be among the first single-dose cures for malaria, and would be used in partnership with another drug. The drug also could potentially be developed as a once-weekly preventative.”

The option to develop DSM265 as a once-weekly preventative would especially benefit those traveling to regions populated with malaria. This would also help those individuals already living in locations with high concentrations of seasonal malaria with low immunity levels.

The primary issue with existing anti-malarial treatments — artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) – surrounds the increase in drug-resistance. Phillips remarked, “The parasite is very good at adapting and becoming resistant to drugs – this is inevitable. What we can do is deliver new medicines with new modes of action and safeguard the longevity of the anti-malarial through use in combination as long as possible.”