The European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) has awarded a new grant to the PAMAfrica research consortium led by Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) to support the development of new treatments for malaria.
The projects will include the development of the first new malaria treatment for babies under 5kg, a new fast-acting medicine for the treatment of severe malaria, and new combinations to treat drug-resistant uncomplicated malaria, said an official statement.
The EDCTP grant of €21.9 million is to be matched by funding from MMV, Novartis and partners.
Over a period of 5 years, the grant will support the development of a portfolio of projects executed under the umbrella of the PAMAfrica research consortium. Clinical trial capabilities in Africa will also be strengthened to ensure each site involved can effectively operate ICH-GCP regulatory standards.
The consortium includes seven research organizations from Burkina Faso, Gabon, Germany, Mozambique, Spain and Uganda. In addition to Novartis, other pharmaceutical company partners may join the consortium.
The PAMAfrica research consortium will conduct three clinical trials, supporting efforts to build clinical capacity and train scientists across Africa.
One trial will explore new combinations of compounds, including new chemical classes, for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in adults and children. These compounds are all known to be fully active against all drug-resistant strains, including the artemisinin-resistant Kelch13 strains.
The second trial will evaluate a new generation, rapid-acting treatment for severe malaria, cipargamin, also known as KAE609, which is being developed by Novartis, supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust.
In the third study, a novel formulation/ratio from Novartis of the current gold standard treatment artemether-lumefantrine will be tested in new-born infants weighing less than 5 kg or who are malnourished.
“Antimalarial drug resistance, originally seen in Southeast Asia, is being reported in Africa and may threaten current treatments,” said Dr Timothy Wells, Chief Scientific Officer of MMV and the coordinator of the PAMAfrica group, in the statement.
The work on new-born infants and in severe malaria is ground-breaking in bringing medicines to this neglected group, he added.
“Malaria continues needlessly to take 405,000 lives a year and must remain a global and national priority in endemic countries,” said Dr Michael Makanga, Executive Director of EDCTP.”
The PAMAfrica consortium, created to take up this challenge and implements a flexible portfolio approach to the development of new anti-malarials, brings together a global medicines company, a not-for-profit product development partnership and leading academic institutions in Africa and Europe.