New drug compound may beat malaria with single $1 dose
- Merck KgAA has obtained the rights to develop and market DDD107498,a newly discovered anti-malarial compound.
- The compound in DDD107498 attacks malaria by creating proteins within the parasite.
- In preclinical testing, DDD107498 demonstrated a high degree of potency against malaria.
Malaria evokes the image of mosquito nets and small, listless children in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, the statistics are grim. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.2 billion people are at risk for malaria, and though the rate of malaria-related deaths have fallen by 47% since 2000 due to preventive measures, almost 600,000 children still die each year. That translates into one child per minute in sub-Saharan Africa. Death is swift and often occurs within a 24-hour period.
It's not a surprise that DDD107498 has generated excitement. It provides a way to treat malaria infections once children have been bitten after preventive measures have failed. The excitement, however, is tempered by the knowledge that compounds such as DDD107498 often fail in phase 1 during safety trials. Merck plans to advance this compound into trials within the next year and expedite development as quickly as possible.