The potential class of drugs, called imidazolopiperazines or IZPs , acts on the liver and blood cells where Plasmodium parasites live in humans, an important improvement over currently available drugs, researchers said.
The international team of 37 scientists, headed by the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation and The Scripps Research Institute, sifted through over 4,000 chemicals before uncovering a class of chemicals that hits the parasite at both stages of its life cycle.
The research was also made available in public databases, a rare move in the development of a potential blockbuster drug.
Concerns of potential future resistance to current medicines, and the need to treat liver forms of malaria, propel our scientists to devise new medicines, Mark Fishman, president of Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said in a statement. The chemical data from this successful study, and the methods of chemical analysis, have all been released to the public domain. Hopefully, such sharing will facilitate broad-based discovery efforts across the globe towards elimination of this disease.
The researchers did not test the compound in human subjects, which will require future clinical trials, but instead used cell assays and a mouse model for malaria infections.
The research was published in the online edition of Science on Thursday.