Publications by authors named "Jörg J Möhrle"

38 Publications

Cytochrome P450-Mediated Metabolism and CYP Inhibition for the Synthetic Peroxide Antimalarial OZ439.

ACS Infect Dis 2021 Jun 8. Epub 2021 Jun 8.

Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University (Parkville Campus), 381 Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia.

OZ439 is a potent synthetic ozonide evaluated for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria. The metabolite profile of OZ439 was characterized using human liver microsomes combined with LC/MS-MS, chemical derivatization, and metabolite synthesis. The primary biotransformations were monohydroxylation at the three distal carbon atoms of the spiroadamantane substructure, with minor contributions from -oxidation of the morpholine nitrogen and deethylation cleavage of the morpholine ring. Secondary transformations resulted in the formation of dihydroxylation metabolites and metabolites containing both monohydroxylation and morpholine -oxidation. With the exception of two minor metabolites, none of the other metabolites had appreciable antimalarial activity. Reaction phenotyping indicated that CYP3A4 is the enzyme responsible for the metabolism of OZ439, and it was found to inhibit CYP3A via both direct and mechanism-based inhibition. Elucidation of the metabolic pathways and kinetics will assist with efforts to predict potential metabolic drug-drug interactions and support physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsinfecdis.1c00225DOI Listing
June 2021

Parasite-Host Dynamics throughout Antimalarial Drug Development Stages Complicate the Translation of Parasite Clearance.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2021 03 18;65(4). Epub 2021 Mar 18.

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland

Ensuring continued success against malaria depends on a pipeline of new antimalarials. Antimalarial drug development utilizes preclinical murine and experimental human malaria infection studies to evaluate drug efficacy. A sequential approach is typically adapted, with results from each stage informing the design of the next stage of development. The validity of this approach depends on confidence that results from murine malarial studies predict the outcome of clinical trials in humans. Parasite clearance rates following treatment are key parameters of drug efficacy. To investigate the validity of forward predictions, we developed a suite of mathematical models to capture parasite growth and drug clearance along the drug development pathway and estimated parasite clearance rates. When comparing the three infection experiments, we identified different relationships of parasite clearance with dose and different maximum parasite clearance rates. In -NMRI mouse infections, we estimated a maximum parasite clearance rate of 0.2 (1/h); in -SCID mouse infections, 0.05 (1/h); and in human volunteer infection studies with , we found a maximum parasite clearance rate of 0.12 (1/h) and 0.18 (1/h) after treatment with OZ439 and MMV048, respectively. Sensitivity analysis revealed that host-parasite driven processes account for up to 25% of variance in parasite clearance for medium-high doses of antimalarials. Although there are limitations in translating parasite clearance rates across these experiments, they provide insight into characterizing key parameters of drug action and dose response and assist in decision-making regarding dosage for further drug development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.01539-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8097426PMC
March 2021

Retrospective Analysis Using Pharmacokinetic/Pharmacodynamic Modeling and Simulation Offers Improvements in Efficiency of the Design of Volunteer Infection Studies for Antimalarial Drug Development.

Clin Transl Sci 2021 03 16;14(2):712-719. Epub 2020 Dec 16.

Medicines for Malaria Venture, Geneva, Switzerland.

Volunteer infection studies using the induced blood stage malaria (IBSM) model have been shown to facilitate antimalarial drug development. Such studies have traditionally been undertaken in single-dose cohorts, as many as necessary to obtain the dose-response relationship. To enhance ethical and logistic aspects of such studies, and to reduce the number of cohorts needed to establish the dose-response relationship, we undertook a retrospective in silico analysis of previously accrued data to improve study design. A pharmacokinetic (PK)/pharmacodynamic (PD) model was developed from initial fictive-cohort data for OZ439 (mixing the data of the three single-dose cohorts as: n = 2 on 100 mg, 2 on 200 mg, and 4 on 500 mg). A three-compartment model described OZ439 PKs. Net growth of parasites was modeled using a Gompertz function and drug-induced parasite death using a Hill function. Parameter estimates for the PK and PD models were comparable for the multidose single-cohort vs. the pooled analysis of all cohorts. Simulations based on the multidose single-cohort design described the complete data from the original IBSM study. The novel design allows for the ascertainment of the PK/PD relationship early in the study, providing a basis for rational dose selection for subsequent cohorts and studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cts.12934DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7993277PMC
March 2021

Safety and parasite clearance of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum infection: A pilot and a randomised volunteer infection study in Australia.

PLoS Med 2020 08 21;17(8):e1003203. Epub 2020 Aug 21.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

Background: Artemisinin resistance is threatening malaria control. We aimed to develop and test a human model of artemisinin-resistant (ART-R) Plasmodium falciparum to evaluate the efficacy of drugs against ART-R malaria.

Methods And Findings: We conducted 2 sequential phase 1, single-centre, open-label clinical trials at Q-Pharm, Brisbane, Australia, using the induced blood-stage malaria (IBSM) model, whereby healthy participants are intravenously inoculated with blood-stage parasites. In a pilot study, participants were inoculated (Day 0) with approximately 2,800 viable P. falciparum ART-R parasites. In a comparative study, participants were randomised to receive approximately 2,800 viable P. falciparum ART-R (Day 0) or artemisinin-sensitive (ART-S) parasites (Day 1). In both studies, participants were administered a single approximately 2 mg/kg oral dose of artesunate (AS; Day 9). Primary outcomes were safety, ART-R parasite infectivity, and parasite clearance. In the pilot study, 2 participants were enrolled between April 27, 2017, and September 12, 2017, and included in final analyses (males n = 2 [100%], mean age = 26 years [range, 23-28 years]). In the comparative study, 25 participants were enrolled between October 26, 2017, and October 18, 2018, of whom 22 were inoculated and included in final analyses (ART-R infected participants: males n = 7 [53.8%], median age = 22 years [range, 18-40 years]; ART-S infected participants: males n = 5 [55.6%], median age = 28 years [range, 22-35 years]). In both studies, all participants inoculated with ART-R parasites became parasitaemic. A total of 36 adverse events were reported in the pilot study and 277 in the comparative study. Common adverse events in both studies included headache, pyrexia, myalgia, nausea, and chills; none were serious. Seven participants experienced transient severe falls in white cell counts and/or elevations in liver transaminase levels which were considered related to malaria. Additionally, 2 participants developed ventricular extrasystoles that were attributed to unmasking of a predisposition to benign fever-induced tachyarrhythmia. In the comparative study, parasite clearance half-life after AS was significantly longer for ART-R infected participants (n = 13, 6.5 hours; 95% confidence interval [CI] 6.3-6.7 hours) compared with ART-S infected participants (n = 9, 3.2 hours; 95% CI 3.0-3.3 hours; p < 0.001). The main limitation of this study was that the ART-R and ART-S parasite strains did not share the same genetic background.

Conclusions: We developed the first (to our knowledge) human model of ART-R malaria. The delayed clearance profile of ART-R parasites after AS aligns with field study observations. Although based on a relatively small sample size, results indicate that this model can be safely used to assess new drugs against ART-R P. falciparum.

Trial Registration: The studies were registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12617000244303 (https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=372357) and ACTRN12617001394336 (https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=373637).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003203DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7444516PMC
August 2020

Antimalarial activity of artefenomel against asexual parasites and transmissible gametocytes during experimental blood-stage Plasmodium vivax infection.

J Infect Dis 2020 Jun 1. Epub 2020 Jun 1.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston QLD, Australia.

Background: Interventions that effectively target Plasmodium vivax are critical for the future control and elimination of malaria. We conducted a P. vivax volunteer infection study to characterise the antimalarial activity of artefenomel, a new drug candidate.

Methods: Eight healthy, malaria-naïve participants were intravenously inoculated with blood-stage P. vivax and subsequently received a single oral 200 mg dose of artefenomel. Blood samples were collected to monitor the development and clearance of parasitemia, and plasma artefenomel concentration. Mosquito feeding assays were conducted prior to artefenomel dosing to investigate parasite transmissibility.

Results: Initial parasite clearance occurred in all participants following artefenomel administration (log10 parasite reduction ratio over 48 hours 1.67; parasite clearance half-life 8.67 h). Recrudescence occurred in 7 participants 11-14 days after dosing. A minimum inhibitory concentration of 0.62 ng/mL and minimum parasiticidal concentration that achieves 90% of maximum effect of 0.83 ng/mL was estimated, and a single 300 mg dose was predicted to clear 109 parasites/mL with 95% certainty. Gametocytemia developed in all participants and was cleared 4-8 days after dosing. At peak gametocytemia, 75% of participants were infectious to mosquitoes.

Conclusions: The in vivo antimalarial activity of artefenomel supports its further clinical development as a treatment for P. vivax malaria.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiaa287DOI Listing
June 2020

Population Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Chloroquine in a Plasmodium vivax Volunteer Infection Study.

Clin Pharmacol Ther 2020 11 2;108(5):1055-1066. Epub 2020 Jul 2.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

Chloroquine has been used for the treatment of malaria for > 70 years; however, chloroquine pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) profile in Plasmodium vivax malaria is poorly understood. The objective of this study was to describe the PK/PD relationship of chloroquine and its major metabolite, desethylchloroquine, in a P. vivax volunteer infection study. We analyzed data from 24 healthy subjects who were inoculated with blood-stage P. vivax malaria and administered a standard treatment course of chloroquine. The PK of chloroquine and desethylchloroquine was described by a two-compartment model with first-order absorption and elimination. The relationship between plasma and whole blood concentrations of chloroquine and P. vivax parasitemia was characterized by a PK/PD delayed response model, where the equilibration half-lives were 32.7 hours (95% confidence interval (CI) 27.4-40.5) for plasma data and 24.1 hours (95% CI 19.0-32.7) for whole blood data. The estimated parasite multiplication rate was 17 folds per 48 hours (95% CI 14-20) and maximum parasite killing rate by chloroquine was 0.213 hour (95% CI 0.196-0.230), translating to a parasite clearance half-life of 4.5 hours (95% CI 4.1-5.0) and a parasite reduction ratio of 400 every 48 hours (95% CI 320-500). This is the first study that characterized the PK/PD relationship between chloroquine plasma and whole blood concentrations and P. vivax clearance using a semimechanistic population PK/PD modeling. This PK/PD model can be used to optimize dosing scenarios and to identify optimal dosing regimens for chloroquine where resistance to chloroquine is increasing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cpt.1893DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7276750PMC
November 2020

Safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and antimalarial efficacy of a novel Plasmodium falciparum ATP4 inhibitor SJ733: a first-in-human and induced blood-stage malaria phase 1a/b trial.

Lancet Infect Dis 2020 08 8;20(8):964-975. Epub 2020 Apr 8.

University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.

Background: (+)-SJ000557733 (SJ733) is a novel, orally bioavailable inhibitor of Plasmodium falciparum ATP4. In this first-in-human and induced blood-stage malaria phase 1a/b trial, we investigated the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and antimalarial activity of SJ733 in humans.

Methods: The phase 1a was a single-centre, dose-escalation, first-in-human study of SJ733 allowing modifications to dose increments and dose-cohort size on the basis of safety and pharmacokinetic results. The phase 1a took place at St Jude Children's Research Hospital and at the University of Tennessee Clinical Research Center (Memphis, TN, USA). Enrolment in more than one non-consecutive dose cohort was allowed with at least 14 days required between doses. Participants were fasted in seven dose cohorts and fed in one 600 mg dose cohort. Single ascending doses of SJ733 (75, 150, 300, 600, 900, or 1200 mg) were administered to participants, who were followed up for 14 days after SJ733 dosing. Phase 1a primary endpoints were safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of SJ733, and identification of an SJ733 dose to test in the induced blood-stage malaria model. The phase 1b was a single-centre, open-label, volunteer infection study using the induced blood-stage malaria model in which fasted participants were intravenously infected with blood-stage P falciparum and subsequently treated with a single dose of SJ733. Phase 1b took place at Q-Pharm (Herston, QLD, Australia) and was initiated only after phase 1a showed that exposure exceeding the threshold minimum exposure could be safely achieved in humans. Participants were inoculated on day 0 with P falciparum-infected human erythrocytes (around 2800 parasites in the 150 mg dose cohort and around 2300 parasites in the 600 mg dose cohort), and parasitaemia was monitored before malaria inoculation, after inoculation, immediately before SJ733 dosing, and then post-dose. Participants were treated with SJ733 within 24 h of reaching 5000 parasites per mL or at a clinical score higher than 6. Phase 1b primary endpoints were calculation of a parasite reduction ratio (PRR) and parasite clearance half-life, and safety and tolerability of SJ733 (incidence, severity, and drug-relatedness of adverse events). In both phases of the trial, SJ733 hydrochloride salt was formulated as a powder blend in capsules containing 75 mg or 300 mg for oral administration. Healthy men and women (of non-childbearing potential) aged 18-55 years were eligible for both studies. Both studies are registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02661373 for the phase 1a and NCT02867059 for the phase 1b).

Findings: In the phase 1a, 23 healthy participants were enrolled and received one to three non-consecutive doses of SJ733 between March 14 and Dec 7, 2016. SJ733 was safe and well tolerated at all doses and in fasted and fed conditions. 119 adverse events were recorded: 54 (45%) were unrelated, 63 (53%) unlikely to be related, and two (2%) possibly related to SJ733. In the phase 1b, 17 malaria-naive, healthy participants were enrolled. Seven participants in the 150 mg dose cohort were inoculated and dosed with SJ733. Eight participants in the 600 mg dose cohort were inoculated, but two participants could not be dosed with SJ733. Two additional participants were subsequently inoculated and dosed with SJ733. SJ733 exposure increased proportional to the dose through to the 600 mg dose, then was saturable at higher doses. Fasted participants receiving 600 mg exceeded the target area under the concentration curve extrapolated to infinity (AUC) of 13 000 μg × h/L (median AUC 24 283 [IQR 16 135-31 311] μg × h/L, median terminal half-life 17·4 h [IQR 16·1-24·0], and median timepoint at which peak plasma concentration is reached 1·0 h [0·6-1·3]), and this dose was tested in the phase 1b. All 15 participants dosed with SJ733 had at least one adverse event. Of the 172 adverse events recorded, 128 (74%) were mild. The only adverse event attributed to SJ733 was mild bilateral foot paraesthesia that lasted 3·75 h and resolved spontaneously. The most common adverse events were related to malaria. Based on parasite clearance half-life, the derived logPRR and corresponding parasite clearance half-lives were 2·2 (95% CI 2·0-2·5) and 6·47 h (95% CI 5·88-7·18) for 150 mg, and 4·1 (3·7-4·4) and 3·56 h (3·29-3·88) for 600 mg.

Interpretation: The favourable pharmacokinetic, tolerability, and safety profile of SJ733, and rapid antiparasitic effect support its development as a fast-acting component of combination antimalarial therapy.

Funding: Global Health Innovative Technology Fund, Medicines for Malaria Venture, and the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(19)30611-5DOI Listing
August 2020

A Phase 1, Placebo-controlled, Randomized, Single Ascending Dose Study and a Volunteer Infection Study to Characterize the Safety, Pharmacokinetics, and Antimalarial Activity of the Plasmodium Phosphatidylinositol 4-Kinase Inhibitor MMV390048.

Clin Infect Dis 2020 12;71(10):e657-e664

Medicines for Malaria Venture, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: MMV390048 is the first Plasmodium phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase inhibitor to reach clinical development as a new antimalarial. We aimed to characterize the safety, pharmacokinetics, and antimalarial activity of a tablet formulation of MMV390048.

Methods: A 2-part, phase 1 trial was conducted in healthy adults. Part 1 was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, single ascending dose study consisting of 3 cohorts (40, 80, 120 mg MMV390048). Part 2 was an open-label volunteer infection study using the Plasmodium falciparum induced blood-stage malaria model consisting of 2 cohorts (40 mg and 80 mg MMV390048).

Results: Twenty four subjects were enrolled in part 1 (n = 8 per cohort, randomized 3:1 MMV390048:placebo) and 15 subjects were enrolled in part 2 (40 mg [n = 7] and 80 mg [n = 8] cohorts). One subject was withdrawn from part 2 (80 mg cohort) before dosing and was not included in analyses. No serious or severe adverse events were attributed to MMV390048. The rate of parasite clearance was greater in subjects administered 80 mg compared to those administered 40 mg (clearance half-life 5.5 hours [95% confidence interval {CI}, 5.2-6.0 hours] vs 6.4 hours [95% CI, 6.0-6.9 hours]; P = .005). Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modeling estimated a minimum inhibitory concentration of 83 ng/mL and a minimal parasiticidal concentration that would achieve 90% of the maximum effect of 238 ng/mL, and predicted that a single 120-mg dose would achieve an adequate clinical and parasitological response with 92% certainty.

Conclusions: The safety, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of MMV390048 support its further development as a partner drug of a single-dose combination therapy for malaria.

Clinical Trials Registration: NCT02783820 (part 1); NCT02783833 (part 2).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa368DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7744986PMC
December 2020

Ensemble modeling highlights importance of understanding parasite-host behavior in preclinical antimalarial drug development.

Sci Rep 2020 03 10;10(1):4410. Epub 2020 Mar 10.

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland.

Emerging drug resistance and high-attrition rates in early and late stage drug development necessitate accelerated development of antimalarial compounds. However, systematic and meaningful translation of drug efficacy and host-parasite dynamics between preclinical testing stages is missing. We developed an ensemble of mathematical within-host parasite growth and antimalarial action models, fitted to extensive data from four antimalarials with different modes of action, to assess host-parasite interactions in two preclinical drug testing systems of murine parasite P. berghei in mice, and human parasite P. falciparum in immune-deficient mice. We find properties of the host-parasite system, namely resource availability, parasite maturation and virulence, drive P. berghei dynamics and drug efficacy, whereas experimental constraints primarily influence P. falciparum infection and drug efficacy. Furthermore, uninvestigated parasite behavior such as dormancy influences parasite recrudescence following non-curative treatment and requires further investigation. Taken together, host-parasite interactions should be considered for meaningful translation of pharmacodynamic properties between murine systems and for predicting human efficacious treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-61304-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7064600PMC
March 2020

A Single-Dose Combination Study with the Experimental Antimalarials Artefenomel and DSM265 To Determine Safety and Antimalarial Activity against Blood-Stage Plasmodium falciparum in Healthy Volunteers.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2019 12 20;64(1). Epub 2019 Dec 20.

Medicines for Malaria Venture, Meyrin, Switzerland

Artefenomel and DSM265 are two new compounds that have been shown to be well tolerated and effective when administered as monotherapy malaria treatment. This study aimed to determine the safety, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of artefenomel and DSM265 administered in combination to healthy subjects in a volunteer infection study using the -induced blood-stage malaria model. Thirteen subjects were inoculated with parasite-infected erythrocytes on day 0 and received a single oral dose of artefenomel and DSM265 on day 7. Cohort 1 ( = 8) received 200 mg artefenomel plus 100 mg DSM265, and cohort 2 ( = 5) received 200 mg artefenomel plus 50 mg DSM265. Blood samples were collected to measure parasitemia, gametocytemia, and artefenomel-DSM265 plasma concentrations. There were no treatment-related adverse events. The pharmacokinetic profiles of artefenomel and DSM265 were similar to those of the compounds when administered as monotherapy, suggesting no pharmacokinetic interactions. A reduction in parasitemia occurred in all subjects following treatment (log parasite reduction ratios over 48 h [PRR] of 2.80 for cohort 1 and 2.71 for cohort 2; parasite clearance half-lives of 5.17 h for cohort 1 and 5.33 h for cohort 2). Recrudescence occurred in 5/8 subjects in cohort 1 between days 19 and 28 and in 5/5 subjects in cohort 2 between days 15 and 22. Low-level gametocytemia (1 to 330 female gametocytes/ml) was detected in all subjects from day 14. The results of this single-dosing combination study support the further clinical development of the use of artefenomel and DSM265 in combination as a treatment for falciparum malaria. (This study has been registered at ClinicalTrials.gov under identifier NCT02389348.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.01371-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7187626PMC
December 2019

The Development Process for Discovery and Clinical Advancement of Modern Antimalarials.

J Med Chem 2019 12 20;62(23):10526-10562. Epub 2019 Aug 20.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research , Parkville , Victoria 3052 , Australia.

Malaria is a devastating disease caused by parasites, resulting in approximately 435000 deaths in 2018. The impact of malaria is compounded by the emergence of widespread resistance to current antimalarial therapies. Recently, a new strategy was initiated to screen small molecule collections against the parasite enabling the identification of new antimalarial chemotypes with novel modes of action. This initiative ushered in the modern era of antimalarial drug development, and as a result, numerous lead candidates are advancing toward or are currently in human clinical trials. In this Perspective, we describe the development pathway of four of the most clinically advanced modern antimalarials, KAE609, KAF156, DSM265, and MMV048. Additionally, the mechanism of action and life-cycle stage specificity of the four antimalarials is discussed in relation to aligning with global strategies to treat and eliminate malaria. This perspective serves as a guide to the expectations of modern antimalarial drug development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b00761DOI Listing
December 2019

DSM265 at 400 Milligrams Clears Asexual Stage Parasites but Not Mature Gametocytes from the Blood of Healthy Subjects Experimentally Infected with .

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2019 04 27;63(4). Epub 2019 Mar 27.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, QLD, Australia.

DSM265 is a novel antimalarial drug in clinical development that acts as a selective inhibitor of dihydroorotate dehydrogenase. In a previous phase 1b study, a single 150-mg dose of DSM265 showed partial efficacy against experimentally induced blood-stage malaria (IBSM). Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modeling predicted a human efficacious dose of 340 mg. The primary objectives of the current study were to determine the safety and efficacy of a single oral 400-mg dose of DSM265 against in the IBSM model. Eight healthy participants were inoculated intravenously with 2,800 parasites and treated with DSM265 7 days later. Unexpectedly, one participant did not develop parasitemia during the study. All other participants developed parasitemia, with the complete clearance of asexual parasites occurring following DSM265 treatment. All seven subjects also became gametocytemic. The secondary objectives were to investigate the gametocytocidal and transmission-blocking activity of a second 400-mg dose of DSM265, which was administered 23 days after inoculation. Gametocytes were not cleared by the second dose of DSM265, and transmission-blocking activity could not be determined due to low gametocyte densities. Three DSM265-related adverse events occurred, including a cutaneous rash in one subject on the day of the second DSM265 dose. The results obtained in this study support the prediction of the efficacious dose of DSM265 and provide further evidence that DSM265 is generally safe and well tolerated. In addition, this study confirms preclinical data indicating that DSM265 permits the development and maturation of gametocytes and does not clear mature circulating gametocytes. (This study has been registered at ClinicalTrials.gov under identifier NCT02573857.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.01837-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6437518PMC
April 2019

Injectable anti-malarials revisited: discovery and development of new agents to protect against malaria.

Malar J 2018 Nov 1;17(1):402. Epub 2018 Nov 1.

Medicines for Malaria Venture, Route de Pré Bois 20, 1215, Geneva, Switzerland.

Over the last 15 years, the majority of malaria drug discovery and development efforts have focused on new molecules and regimens to treat patients with uncomplicated or severe disease. In addition, a number of new molecular scaffolds have been discovered which block the replication of the parasite in the liver, offering the possibility of new tools for oral prophylaxis or chemoprotection, potentially with once-weekly dosing. However, an intervention which requires less frequent administration than this would be a key tool for the control and elimination of malaria. Recent progress in HIV drug discovery has shown that small molecules can be formulated for injections as native molecules or pro-drugs which provide protection for at least 2 months. Advances in antibody engineering offer an alternative approach whereby a single injection could potentially provide protection for several months. Building on earlier profiles for uncomplicated and severe malaria, a target product profile is proposed here for an injectable medicine providing long-term protection from this disease. As with all of such profiles, factors such as efficacy, cost, safety and tolerability are key, but with the changing disease landscape in Africa, new clinical and regulatory approaches are required to develop prophylactic/chemoprotective medicines. An overall framework for these approaches is suggested here.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12936-018-2549-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6211409PMC
November 2018

Antimalarial activity of single-dose DSM265, a novel plasmodium dihydroorotate dehydrogenase inhibitor, in patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum or Plasmodium vivax malaria infection: a proof-of-concept, open-label, phase 2a study.

Lancet Infect Dis 2018 08 13;18(8):874-883. Epub 2018 Jun 13.

Medicines for Malaria Venture, Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Background: DSM265 is a novel, long-duration inhibitor of plasmodium dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) with excellent selectivity over human DHODH and activity against blood and liver stages of Plasmodium falciparum. This study aimed to assess the efficacy of DSM265 in patients with P falciparum or Plasmodium vivax malaria infection.

Methods: This proof-of-concept, open-label, phase 2a study was conducted at the Asociación Civil Selva Amazónica in Iquitos, Peru. Patients aged 18-70 years, weighing 45-90 kg, who had clinical malaria (P falciparum or P vivax monoinfection) and fever within the previous 24 h were eligible. Exclusion criteria were clinical or laboratory signs of severe malaria, inability to take oral medicine, and use of other antimalarial treatment in the preceding 14 days. Patients were divided into cohorts of those with P falciparum (cohort a) or P vivax (cohort b) infection. Two initial cohorts received single oral doses of 400 mg DSM265. Patients were followed up for efficacy for 28 days and safety for 35 days. Further cohorts received escalated or de-escalated doses of DSM265, after safety and efficacy assessment of the initial dose. The primary endpoints were the proportion of patients achieving PCR-adjusted adequate clinical and parasitological response (ACPR) by day 14 for patients infected with P falciparum and the proportion of patients achieving a crude cure by day 14 for those infected with P vivax. Cohort success, the criteria for dose escalation, was defined as ACPR (P falciparum) or crude cure (P vivax) in at least 80% of patients in the cohort. The primary analysis was done in the intention-to-treat population (ITT) and the per-protocol population, and safety analyses were done in all patients who received the study drug. This study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02123290).

Findings: Between Jan 12, 2015, and Dec 2, 2015, 45 Peruvian patients (24 with P falciparum [cohort a] and 21 with P vivax [cohort b] infection) were sequentially enrolled. For patients with P falciparum malaria in the per-protocol population, all 11 (100%) in the 400 mg group and eight (80%) of ten in the 250 mg group achieved ACPR on day 14. In the ITT analysis, 11 (85%) of 13 in the 400 mg group and eight (73%) of 11 in the 250 mg group achieved ACPR at day 14. For the patients with P vivax malaria, the primary endpoint was not met. In the per-protocol analysis, none of four patients who had 400 mg, three (50%) of six who had 600 mg, and one (25%) of four who had 800 mg DSM265 achieved crude cure at day 14. In the ITT analysis, none of five in the 400 mg group, three (33%) of nine in the 600 mg group, and one (14%) of seven in the 800 mg group achieved crude cure at day 14. During the 28-day extended observation of P falciparum patients, a resistance-associated mutation in the gene encoding the DSM265 target DHODH was observed in two of four recurring patients. DSM265 was well tolerated. The most common adverse events were pyrexia (20 [44%] of 45) and headache (18 [40%] of 45), which are both common symptoms of malaria, and no patients had any treatment-related serious adverse events or adverse events leading to study discontinuation.

Interpretation: After a single dose of DSM265, P falciparum parasitaemia was rapidly cleared, whereas against P vivax, DSM265 showed less effective clearance kinetics. Its long duration of action provides the potential to prevent recurrence of P falciparum after treatment with a single dose, which should be further assessed in future combination studies.

Funding: The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (R01 AI103058), the Wellcome Trust, and the UK Department of International Development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(18)30309-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6060173PMC
August 2018

A controlled human malaria infection model enabling evaluation of transmission-blocking interventions.

J Clin Invest 2018 04 12;128(4):1551-1562. Epub 2018 Mar 12.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Background: Drugs and vaccines that can interrupt the transmission of Plasmodium falciparum will be important for malaria control and elimination. However, models for early clinical evaluation of candidate transmission-blocking interventions are currently unavailable. Here, we describe a new model for evaluating malaria transmission from humans to Anopheles mosquitoes using controlled human malaria infection (CHMI).

Methods: Seventeen healthy malaria-naive volunteers underwent CHMI by intravenous inoculation of P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes to initiate blood-stage infection. Seven to eight days after inoculation, participants received piperaquine (480 mg) to attenuate asexual parasite replication while allowing gametocytes to develop and mature. Primary end points were development of gametocytemia, the transmissibility of gametocytes from humans to mosquitoes, and the safety and tolerability of the CHMI transmission model. To investigate in vivo gametocytocidal drug activity in this model, participants were either given an experimental antimalarial, artefenomel (500 mg), or a known gametocytocidal drug, primaquine (15 mg), or remained untreated during the period of gametocyte carriage.

Results: Male and female gametocytes were detected in all participants, and transmission to mosquitoes was achieved from 8 of 11 (73%) participants evaluated. Compared with results in untreated controls (n = 7), primaquine (15 mg, n = 5) significantly reduced gametocyte burden (P = 0.01), while artefenomel (500 mg, n = 4) had no effect. Adverse events (AEs) were mostly mild or moderate. Three AEs were assessed as severe - fatigue, elevated alanine aminotransferase, and elevated aspartate aminotransferase - and were attributed to malaria infection. Transaminase elevations were transient, asymptomatic, and resolved without intervention.

Conclusion: We report the safe and reproducible induction of P. falciparum gametocytes in healthy malaria-naive volunteers at densities infectious to mosquitoes, thereby demonstrating the potential for evaluating transmission-blocking interventions in this model.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02431637 and NCT02431650.

Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI98012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5873858PMC
April 2018

A Randomized Trial Evaluating the Prophylactic Activity of DSM265 Against Preerythrocytic Plasmodium falciparum Infection During Controlled Human Malarial Infection by Mosquito Bites and Direct Venous Inoculation.

J Infect Dis 2018 02;217(5):693-702

Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Background: DSM265 is a selective inhibitor of Plasmodium dihydroorotate dehydrogenase that fully protected against controlled human malarial infection (CHMI) by direct venous inoculation of Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites when administered 1 day before challenge and provided partial protection when administered 7 days before challenge.

Methods: A double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was performed to assess safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy of 1 oral dose of 400 mg of DSM265 before CHMI. Three cohorts were studied, with DSM265 administered 3 or 7 days before direct venous inoculation of sporozoites or 7 days before 5 bites from infected mosquitoes.

Results: DSM265-related adverse events consisted of mild-to-moderate headache and gastrointestinal symptoms. DSM265 concentrations were consistent with pharmacokinetic models (mean area under the curve extrapolated to infinity, 1707 µg*h/mL). Placebo-treated participants became positive by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and were treated 7-10 days after CHMI. Among DSM265-treated subjects, 2 of 6 in each cohort were sterilely protected. DSM265-treated recipients had longer times to development of parasitemia than placebo-treated participants (P < .004).

Conclusions: This was the first CHMI study of a novel antimalarial compound to compare direct venous inoculation of sporozoites and mosquito bites. Times to qRT-PCR positivity and treatment were comparable for both routes. DSM265 given 3 or 7 days before CHMI was safe and well tolerated but sterilely protected only one third of participants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jix613DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5853383PMC
February 2018

Model-Informed Drug Development for Malaria Therapeutics.

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol 2018 01 6;58:567-582. Epub 2017 Oct 6.

Cognigen Corporation, a subsidiary of Simulations Plus, Buffalo, New York 14221, USA; email: , ,

Malaria is a critical public health problem resulting in substantial morbidity and mortality, particularly in developing countries. Owing to the development of resistance toward current therapies, novel approaches to accelerate the development efforts of new malaria therapeutics are urgently needed. There have been significant advancements in the development of in vitro and in vivo experiments that generate data used to inform decisions about the potential merit of new compounds. A comprehensive disease-drug model capable of integrating discrete data from different preclinical and clinical components would be a valuable tool across all stages of drug development. This could have an enormous impact on the otherwise slow and resource-intensive process of traditional clinical drug development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-pharmtox-010715-103429DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198115PMC
January 2018

Treating malaria: new drugs for a new era.

Lancet Infect Dis 2017 12 12;17(12):1223-1224. Epub 2017 Sep 12.

Medicines for Malaria Venture, Geneva, Switzerland.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(17)30475-9DOI Listing
December 2017

Hemolytic Potential of Tafenoquine in Female Volunteers Heterozygous for Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) Deficiency ( Variant) versus G6PD-Normal Volunteers.

Am J Trop Med Hyg 2017 Sep 27;97(3):702-711. Epub 2017 Jul 27.

GlaxoSmithKline Research and Development Ltd., Uxbridge, United Kingdom.

Tafenoquine is an 8-aminoquinoline under investigation for the prevention of relapse in malaria. This open-label, dose-escalation study assessed quantitatively the hemolytic risk with tafenoquine in female healthy volunteers heterozygous for the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD)-deficient variant versus G6PD-normal females, and with reference to primaquine. Six G6PD-heterozygous subjects (G6PD enzyme activity 40-60% of normal) and six G6PD-normal subjects per treatment group received single-dose tafenoquine (100, 200, or 300 mg) or primaquine (15 mg × 14 days). All participants had pretreatment hemoglobin levels ≥ 12.0 g/dL. Tafenoquine dose escalation stopped when hemoglobin decreased by ≥ 2.5 g/dL (or hematocrit decline ≥ 7.5%) versus pretreatment values in ≥ 3/6 subjects. A dose-response was evident in G6PD-heterozygous subjects ( = 15) receiving tafenoquine for the maximum decrease in hemoglobin versus pretreatment values. Hemoglobin declines were similar for tafenoquine 300 mg (-2.65 to -2.95 g/dL [ = 3]) and primaquine (-1.25 to -3.0 g/dL [ = 5]). Two further cohorts of G6PD-heterozygous subjects with G6PD enzyme levels 61-80% ( = 2) and > 80% ( = 5) of the site median normal received tafenoquine 200 mg; hemolysis was less pronounced at higher G6PD enzyme activities. Tafenoquine hemolytic potential was dose dependent, and hemolysis was greater in G6PD-heterozygous females with lower G6PD enzyme activity levels. Single-dose tafenoquine 300 mg did not appear to increase the severity of hemolysis versus primaquine 15 mg × 14 days.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.16-0779DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5590573PMC
September 2017

DSM265 for Plasmodium falciparum chemoprophylaxis: a randomised, double blinded, phase 1 trial with controlled human malaria infection.

Lancet Infect Dis 2017 06 28;17(6):636-644. Epub 2017 Mar 28.

Institute of Tropical Medicine, and German Center for Infection Research, partner site Tübingen, Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany.

Background: A drug for causal (ie, pre-erythrocytic) prophylaxis of Plasmodium falciparum malaria with prolonged activity would substantially advance malaria control. DSM265 is an experimental antimalarial that selectively inhibits the parasite dihydroorotate dehydrogenase. DSM265 shows in vitro activity against liver and blood stages of P falciparum. We assessed the prophylactic activity of DSM265 against controlled human malaria infection (CHMI).

Methods: At the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Eberhard Karls University (Tübingen, Germany), healthy, malaria-naive adults were allocated to receive 400 mg DSM265 or placebo either 1 day (cohort 1A) or 7 days (cohort 2) before CHMI by direct venous inoculation (DVI) of 3200 aseptic, purified, cryopreserved P falciparum sporozoites (PfSPZ Challenge; Sanaria Inc, Rockville, MD, USA). An additional group received daily atovaquone-proguanil (250-100 mg) for 9 days, starting 1 day before CHMI (cohort 1B). Allocation to DSM265, atovaquone-proguanil, or placebo was randomised by an interactive web response system. Allocation to cohort 1A and 1B was open-label, within cohorts 1A and 2, allocation to DSM265 and placebo was double-blinded. All treatments were given orally. Volunteers were treated with an antimalarial on day 28, or when parasitaemic, as detected by thick blood smear (TBS) microscopy. The primary efficacy endpoint was time-to-parasitaemia, assessed by TBS. All participants receiving at least one dose of chemoprophylaxis or placebo were considered for safety, those receiving PfSPZ Challenge for efficacy analyses. Log-rank test was used to compare time-to-parasitemia between interventions. The trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT02450578.

Findings: 22 participants were enrolled between Oct 23, 2015, and Jan 18, 2016. Five participants received 400 mg DSM265 and two participants received placebo 1 day before CHMI (cohort 1A), six participants received daily atovaquone-proguanil 1 day before CHMI (cohort 1B), and six participants received 400 mg DSM265 and two participants received placebo 7 days before CHMI (cohort 2). Five of five participants receiving DSM265 1 day before CHMI and six of six in the atovaquone-proguanil cohort were protected, whereas placebo recipients (two of two) developed malaria on days 11 and 14. When given 7 days before CHMI, three of six volunteers receiving DSM265 became TBS positive on days 11, 13, and 24. The remaining three DSM265-treated, TBS-negative participants of cohort 2 developed transient submicroscopic parasitaemia. Both participants receiving placebo 7 days before CHMI became TBS positive on day 11. The only possible DSM265-related adverse event was a moderate transient elevation in serum bilirubin in one participant.

Interpretation: A single dose of 400 mg DSM265 was well tolerated and had causal prophylactic activity when given 1 day before CHMI. Future trials are needed to investigate further the use of DSM265 for the prophylaxis of malaria.

Funding: Global Health Innovative Technology Fund, Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through Medicines for Malaria Venture, and the German Center for Infection Research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(17)30139-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5446410PMC
June 2017

Safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and activity of the novel long-acting antimalarial DSM265: a two-part first-in-human phase 1a/1b randomised study.

Lancet Infect Dis 2017 06 28;17(6):626-635. Epub 2017 Mar 28.

Medicines for Malaria Venture, Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Background: DSM265 is a novel antimalarial that inhibits plasmodial dihydroorotate dehydrogenase, an enzyme essential for pyrimidine biosynthesis. We investigated the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of DSM265, and tested its antimalarial activity.

Methods: Healthy participants aged 18-55 years were enrolled in a two-part study: part 1, a single ascending dose (25-1200 mg), double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study, and part 2, an open-label, randomised, active-comparator controlled study, in which participants were inoculated with Plasmodium falciparum induced blood-stage malaria (IBSM) and treated with DSM265 (150 mg) or mefloquine (10 mg/kg). Primary endpoints were DSM265 safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics. Randomisation lists were created using a validated, automated system. Both parts were registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, number ACTRN12613000522718 (part 1) and number ACTRN12613000527763 (part 2).

Findings: In part 1, 73 participants were enrolled between April 12, 2013, and July 14, 2015 (DSM265, n=55; placebo, n=18). In part 2, nine participants were enrolled between Sept 30 and Nov 25, 2013 (150 mg DSM265, n=7; 10 mg/kg mefloquine, n=2). In part 1, 117 adverse events were reported; no drug-related serious or severe events were reported. The most common drug-related adverse event was headache. The mean DSM265 peak plasma concentration (C) ranged between 1310 ng/mL and 34 800 ng/mL and was reached in a median time (t) between 1·5 h and 4 h, with a mean elimination half-life between 86 h and 118 h. In part 2, the log parasite reduction ratio at 48 h in the DSM265 (150 mg) group was 1·55 (95% CI 1·42-1·67) and in the mefloquine (10 mg/kg) group was 2·34 (2·17-2·52), corresponding to a parasite clearance half-life of 9·4 h (8·7-10·2) and 6·2 h (5·7-6·7), respectively. The median minimum inhibitory concentration of DSM265 in blood was estimated as 1040 ng/mL (range 552-1500), resulting in a predicted single efficacious dose of 340 mg. Parasite clearance was significantly faster in participants who received mefloquine than in participants who received DSM265 (p<0·0001).

Interpretation: The good safety profile, long elimination half-life, and antimalarial effect of DSM265 supports its development as a partner drug in a single-dose antimalarial combination treatment.

Funding: Wellcome Trust, UK Department for International Development, Global Health Innovative Technology Fund, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(17)30171-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5446412PMC
June 2017

New developments in anti-malarial target candidate and product profiles.

Malar J 2017 01 13;16(1):26. Epub 2017 Jan 13.

Medicines for Malaria Venture, Route de Pré Bois 20, 1215, Geneva 15, Switzerland.

A decade of discovery and development of new anti-malarial medicines has led to a renewed focus on malaria elimination and eradication. Changes in the way new anti-malarial drugs are discovered and developed have led to a dramatic increase in the number and diversity of new molecules presently in pre-clinical and early clinical development. The twin challenges faced can be summarized by multi-drug resistant malaria from the Greater Mekong Sub-region, and the need to provide simplified medicines. This review lists changes in anti-malarial target candidate and target product profiles over the last 4 years. As well as new medicines to treat disease and prevent transmission, there has been increased focus on the longer term goal of finding new medicines for chemoprotection, potentially with long-acting molecules, or parenteral formulations. Other gaps in the malaria armamentarium, such as drugs to treat severe malaria and endectocides (that kill mosquitoes which feed on people who have taken the drug), are defined here. Ultimately the elimination of malaria requires medicines that are safe and well-tolerated to be used in vulnerable populations: in pregnancy, especially the first trimester, and in those suffering from malnutrition or co-infection with other pathogens. These updates reflect the maturing of an understanding of the key challenges in producing the next generation of medicines to control, eliminate and ultimately eradicate malaria.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12936-016-1675-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5237200PMC
January 2017

A Phase II pilot trial to evaluate safety and efficacy of ferroquine against early Plasmodium falciparum in an induced blood-stage malaria infection study.

Malar J 2016 Sep 13;15:469. Epub 2016 Sep 13.

Medicines for Malaria Venture, Route de Pré-Bois 20, 1215, Meyrin, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: Ferroquine (SSR97193) is a candidate anti-malarial currently undergoing clinical trials for malaria. To better understand its pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) parameters the compound was tested in the experimentally induced blood stage malaria infection model in volunteers.

Methods: Male and non-pregnant female aged 18-50 years were screened for this phase II, controlled, single-centre clinical trial. Subjects were inoculated with ~1800 viable Plasmodium falciparum 3D7A-infected human erythrocytes, and treated with a single-dose of 800 mg ferroquine. Blood samples were taken at defined time-points to measure PK and PD parameters. The blood concentration of ferroquine and its active metabolite, SSR97213, were measured on dry blood spot samples by ultra-performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Parasitaemia and emergence of gametocytes were monitored by quantitative PCR. Safety was determined by recording adverse events and monitoring clinical laboratory assessments during the course of the study.

Results: Eight subjects were enrolled into the study, inoculated with infected erythrocytes and treated with 800 mg ferroquine. Ferroquine was rapidly absorbed with maximal exposure after 4-8 and 4-12 h exposure for SSR97213. Non-compartmental PK analysis resulted in estimates for half-lives of 10.9 and 23.8 days for ferroquine and SSR97213, respectively. Parasite clearance as reported by parasite reduction ratio was 162.9 (95 % CI 141-188) corresponding to a parasite clearance half-life of 6.5 h (95 % CI: 6.4-6.7 h). PK/PD modelling resulted in a predicted minimal parasiticidal concentration of 20 ng/mL, and the single dosing tested in this study was predicted to maintain an exposure above this threshold for 454 h (37.8 days). Although ferroquine was overall well tolerated, transient elevated transaminase levels were observed in three subjects. Paracetamol was the only concomitant treatment among the two out of these three subjects that may have played a role in the elevated transaminases levels. No clinically significant ECG abnormalities were observed.

Conclusions: The parameters and PK/PD model derived from this study pave the way to the further rational development of ferroquine as an anti-malarial partner drug. The safety of ferroquine has to be further explored in controlled human trials. Trial registration anzctr.org.au (registration number: ACTRN12613001040752), registered 18/09/2013.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12936-016-1511-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5022189PMC
September 2016

Efficacy of OZ439 (artefenomel) against early Plasmodium falciparum blood-stage malaria infection in healthy volunteers.

J Antimicrob Chemother 2016 09 5;71(9):2620-7. Epub 2016 Jun 5.

Department of Translational Medicine, Medicines for Malaria Venture, Route de Pré-Bois 20, 1215 Meyrin, Geneva, Switzerland

Objectives: OZ439, or artefenomel, is an investigational synthetic ozonide antimalarial with similar potency, but a significantly improved pharmacokinetic profile, compared with artemisinins. We wished to measure key pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic parameters and the pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationship of artefenomel in humans to guide the drug's further development as combination therapy in patients.

Patients And Methods: We tested artefenomel in the human induced blood-stage malaria (IBSM) model. Plasmodium infection was monitored by quantitative PCR (qPCR) and upon reaching 1000 parasites/mL single doses of 100, 200 and 500 mg of artefenomel were administered orally with evaluation of drug exposure and parasitaemia until rescue treatment after 16 days or earlier, if required.

Results: A single 100 mg dose had only a transient effect, while the 200 mg dose resulted in a significant reduction in parasitaemia before early recrudescence. At the highest (500 mg) dose, initial clearance of parasites below the limit of detection of qPCR was observed, with a 48 h parasite reduction ratio (PRR48) >10 000 and a parasite clearance half-life of 3.6 h (95% CI 3.4-3.8 h). However, at this dose, recrudescence was seen in four of eight subjects 6-10 days after treatment. Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modelling predicted an MIC of 4.1 ng/mL.

Conclusions: These results confirm the antimalarial potential of artefenomel for use in a single-exposure combination therapy. The observations from this study support and will assist further clinical development of artefenomel.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jac/dkw174DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4992851PMC
September 2016

Defining the Effectiveness of Antimalarial Chemotherapy: Investigation of the Lag in Parasite Clearance Following Drug Administration.

J Infect Dis 2016 09 31;214(5):753-61. Epub 2016 May 31.

Infection Analytics, Kirby Institute, UNSW Australia, Sydney.

Background: The emergence of drug-resistant malaria highlights the need for new agents. A desired characteristic of candidate antimalarials is rapid killing of parasites. This is typically measured by the rate of exponential clearance of parasitemia following treatment. However, this clearance rate excludes the highly variable lag phase, when the parasitemia level may increase, remain constant, or decrease. Understanding factors determining this lag phase is important for drug development.

Methods: We assessed the kinetics of parasitemia in 112 volunteers infected with blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum and treated with 8 different antimalarials. The parasitemia level was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. We analyzed the relationship between the timing of treatment in the parasite growth cycle, and whether the parasitemia level rose or fell in the first 12 or 24 hours after treatment.

Results: The timing of treatment in the parasite life cycle predicted whether subjects experienced rises or falls in parasitemia level after treatment. Antimalarials were unable to prevent rises in the parasitemia level in the first 12 hours. However, in the first 24 hours after treatment, fast-acting but not slow-acting drugs reduced the parasitemia level independent of when treatment was administered.

Conclusions: The highly variable lag phase depends on the speed of action of an antimalarial and when in the periodic growth cycle it is administered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiw234DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4978373PMC
September 2016

Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modelling of the antimalarial effect of Actelion-451840 in an induced blood stage malaria study in healthy subjects.

Br J Clin Pharmacol 2016 08 11;82(2):412-21. Epub 2016 May 11.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

Aims: The aim of this study was to use data from an experimental induced blood stage malaria clinical trial to characterize the antimalarial activity of the new compound Actelion-451840 using pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) modelling. Then, using simulations from the model, the dose and dosing regimen necessary to achieve cure of infection were derived.

Methods: Eight healthy male subjects were infected with blood stage P. falciparum. After 7 days, a single dose of 500 mg of Actelion-451840 was administered under fed conditions. Parasite and drug concentrations were sampled frequently. Parasite growth and the relation to drug exposure were estimated using PK/PD modelling. Simulations were then undertaken to derive estimates of the likelihood of achieving cure in different scenarios.

Results: Actelion-451840 was safe and well tolerated. Single dose treatment markedly reduced the level of P. falciparum parasitaemia, with a weighted average parasite reduction rate of 73.6 (95% CI 56.1, 96.5) and parasite clearance half-life of 7.7 h (95% CI 7.3, 8.3). A two compartment PK/PD model with a steep concentration-kill effect predicted maximum effect with a sustained concentration of 10-15 ng ml(-1) and cure achieved in 90% of subjects with six once daily doses of 300 mg once daily.

Conclusions: Actelion-451840 shows clinical efficacy against P. falciparum infections. The PK/PD model developed from a single proof-of-concept study with eight healthy subjects enabled prediction of therapeutic effects, with cure rates with seven daily doses predicted to be equivalent to artesunate monotherapy. Larger doses or more frequent dosing are not predicted to achieve more rapid cure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bcp.12962DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4972157PMC
August 2016

Piperaquine Monotherapy of Drug-Susceptible Plasmodium falciparum Infection Results in Rapid Clearance of Parasitemia but Is Followed by the Appearance of Gametocytemia.

J Infect Dis 2016 Jul 7;214(1):105-13. Epub 2016 Apr 7.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute School of Medicine, University of Queensland Q-Pharm.

Background: Piperaquine, coformulated with dihydroartemisinin, is a component of a widely used artemisinin combination therapy. There is a paucity of data on its antimalarial activity as a single agent. Such data, if available, would inform selection of new coformulations.

Methods: We undertook a study in healthy subjects, using the induced blood stage malaria (IBSM) model to test the antimalarial activity of single doses of piperaquine (960, 640, and 480 mg) in 3 cohorts. In a pilot study in the third cohort, gametocyte clearance following administration of 15 mg, or 45 mg or no primaquine was investigated.

Results: Parasite clearance over the 48-hour period after piperaquine administration was more rapid in the 960 mg cohort, compared with the 640 mg cohort (parasite reduction ratio, 2951 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1520-5728] vs 586 [95% CI, 351-978]; P < .001). All 24 subjects developed gametocytemia as determined by pfs25 transcripts. Clearance of pfs25 was significantly faster in those receiving primaquine than in those not receiving primaquine (P < .001).

Conclusions: Piperaquine possesses rapid parasite-clearing activity, but monotherapy is followed by the appearance of gametocytemia, which could facilitate the spread of malaria. This new information should be taken into account when developing future antimalarial coformulations.

Clinical Trials Registration: ACTRN12613000565741.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiw128DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4907420PMC
July 2016

Linking Murine and Human Plasmodium falciparum Challenge Models in a Translational Path for Antimalarial Drug Development.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2016 06 23;60(6):3669-75. Epub 2016 May 23.

Medicines for Malaria Venture, Geneva, Switzerland

Effective progression of candidate antimalarials is dependent on optimal dosing in clinical studies, which is determined by a sound understanding of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics (PK/PD). Recently, two important translational models for antimalarials have been developed: the NOD/SCID/IL2Rγ(-/-) (NSG) model, whereby mice are engrafted with noninfected and Plasmodium falciparum-infected human erythrocytes, and the induced blood-stage malaria (IBSM) model in human volunteers. The antimalarial mefloquine was used to directly measure the PK/PD in both models, which were compared to previously published trial data for malaria patients. The clinical part was a single-center, controlled study using a blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum challenge inoculum in volunteers to characterize the effectiveness of mefloquine against early malaria. The study was conducted in three cohorts (n = 8 each) using different doses of mefloquine. The characteristic delay in onset of action of about 24 h was seen in both NSG and IBSM systems. In vivo 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) were estimated at 2.0 μg/ml and 1.8 μg/ml in the NSG and IBSM models, respectively, aligning with 1.8 μg/ml reported previously for patients. In the IBSM model, the parasite reduction ratios were 157 and 195 for the 10- and 15-mg/kg doses, within the range of previously reported clinical data for patients but significantly lower than observed in the mouse model. Linking mouse and human challenge models to clinical trial data can accelerate the accrual of critical data on antimalarial drug activity. Such data can guide large clinical trials required for development of urgently needed novel antimalarial combinations. (This trial was registered at the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry [http://anzctr.org.au] under registration number ACTRN12612000323820.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.02883-15DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4879391PMC
June 2016

Antimalarial activity of artefenomel (OZ439), a novel synthetic antimalarial endoperoxide, in patients with Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax malaria: an open-label phase 2 trial.

Lancet Infect Dis 2016 Jan 5;16(1):61-69. Epub 2015 Oct 5.

Medicines for Malaria Venture, Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Background: Artefenomel (OZ439) is a novel synthetic trioxolane with improved pharmacokinetic properties compared with other antimalarial drugs with the artemisinin pharmacophore. Artefenomel has been generally well tolerated in volunteers at doses up to 1600 mg and is being developed as a partner drug in an antimalarial combination treatment. We investigated the efficacy, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of artefenomel at different doses in patients with Plasmodium falciparum or Plasmodium vivax malaria.

Methods: This phase 2a exploratory, open-label trial was done at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Bangkok, and the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit in Thailand. Adult patients with acute, uncomplicated P falciparum or P vivax malaria received artefenomel in a single oral dose (200 mg, 400 mg, 800 mg, or 1200 mg). The first cohort received 800 mg. Testing of a new dose of artefenomel in a patient cohort was decided on after safety and efficacy assessment of the preceding cohort. The primary endpoint was the natural log parasite reduction per 24 h. Definitive oral treatment was given at 36 h. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01213966.

Findings: Between Oct 24, 2010, and May 25, 2012, 82 patients were enrolled (20 in each of the 200 mg, 400 mg, and 800 mg cohorts, and 21 in the 1200 mg cohort). One patient withdrew consent (before the administration of artefenomel) but there were no further dropouts. The parasite reduction rates per 24 h ranged from 0·90 to 1·88 for P falciparum, and 2·09 to 2·53 for P vivax. All doses were equally effective in both P falciparum and P vivax malaria, with median parasite clearance half-lives of 4·1 h (range 1·3-6·7) to 5·6 h (2·0-8·5) for P falciparum and 2·3 h (1·2-3·9) to 3·2 h (0·9-15·0) for P vivax. Maximum plasma concentrations, dose-proportional to 800 mg, occurred at 4 h (median). The estimated elimination half-life was 46-62 h. No serious drug-related adverse effects were reported; other adverse effects were generally mild and reversible, with the highest number in the 1200 mg cohort (17 [81%] patients with at least one adverse event). The most frequently reported adverse effect was an asymptomatic increase in plasma creatine phosphokinase concentration (200 mg, n=5; 400 mg, n=3; 800 mg, n=1; 1200 mg, n=3).

Interpretation: Artefenomel is a new synthetic antimalarial peroxide with a good safety profile that clears parasitaemia rapidly in both P falciparum and P vivax malaria. Its long half-life suggests a possible use in a single-dose treatment in combination with other drugs.

Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, and UK Department for International Development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(15)00320-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4700386PMC
January 2016