Novartis said it has joined Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) of Geneva, Switzerland, to initiate a patient trial of an antimalarial formulation designed to vanquish drug-resistant strains at centers in Mali with plans for to expand the study to other African nations.
Novartis said in a release it is developing KAF156, a fast-acting next-generation treatment aimed at clearing malaria infection, including resistant strains, and impeding transmission of the malaria parasite, with support from MMV and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"This new milestone underscores our company's long-standing commitment to the fight against malaria," Novartis Chief Medical Officer Vas Narasimhan, head of drug development, said in the release. "With nearly half of the world's population at risk, malaria continues to be a major public health challenge. Developing new antimalarial medicines is critical to achieving malaria elimination. Innovative science continues to be our best weapon against the disease."
Officials felt it was important to conduct a trial in the same setting where the drug would be administered to local populations, the release said.
"Malaria is a major public health concern in Mali – especially for children,” Dr. Bakary Fofana, clinical trial investigator at the Malaria Research and Training Center in Bougoula-Hameau in Mali, said in the release. “Thus, the need for novel antimalarials is urgent. Because it is a new compound with the potential to treat malaria including strains resistant to currently used antimalarials, we are particularly motivated to run the KAF156 patient trial at our site in Mali."