Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have designed a new drug for malaria that has easily passed the first stage of preclinical testing in mice and rats.
Scientists will announce their successful results in Chicago on August 29, 2001, at the American Chemical Society's annual summer meeting. The results will also appear as an expedited article in the September 2001 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
"The new compound is known as a carboxyphenyl trioxane, and its therapeutic index, the measure of a drug's safety and efficacy in treating a disease, is very good," says Gary Posner, Scowe Professor of Chemistry in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins. "In addition, it's water soluble and therefore easy to administer orally and intravenously."
Annually, malaria infects 300 million to 500 million people and causes 1.5 million to 3 million deaths. It is primarily spread by mosquito bites. The most commonly fatal strain of the malaria parasite is showing considerable resistance to current treatments, making development of new drugs a priority.
Posner worked with Theresa Shapiro, professor of Clinical Pharmacology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and co-workers Michael Parker, Heung Bae Jeon, Mikhail Krasavin, and Ik-Hyeon Paik to synthesize and test antimalarial drugs in the laboratory. Posner and Shapiro are active in the organization of the new $100 million Malaria Research Institute at the university's Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Posner, who will present at a symposium in Chicago called "Advances in controlling parasitic diseases," says results from first-stage testing of the drug's effectiveness and toxicity in mice and rats compared favorably to results from another water-soluble candidate for malaria treatment. That other drug is under development at the U.S. Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.