New Long-Acting Approach For Malaria Therapy Developed

Source: University of Liverpool

Summary: Researchers in a study, highlighted a new ‘long-acting’ nanomedicine for the prevention of malaria.

Malaria is a life-threatening mosquito-borne blood disease caused by a Plasmodium parasite which is transmitted to humans through the bite of the Anopheles mosquito. Every year, malaria afflicts hundreds of millions of people and kills hundreds of thousands of children around the world. Despite considerable success in reducing its prevalence the incidence in visitors to endemic areas has continued to rise steadily. Oral dosing of antimalarial tablets is currently the best available option in preventing malaria, but chronic oral dosing of these medicines has significant complications because healthy people need to strictly adhere to the medication in order for effective prophylaxis to occur. Researchers from the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlighted a new ‘long-acting’ nanomedicine for the prevention of malaria. The study findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Malaria - Plasmodium

Malaria blood parasite. Credit: University of Liverpool

The study aimed to utilize nanotechnology to improve the delivery of an existing antimalarial drug via a novel injectable format that can maintain a blood concentration of the drug for weeks or months following a single dose. They used Solid Drug Nanoparticles and they have shown benefits for long-acting injectable (LAI) format. These particles have an approximate diameter that is 1/500th the width of a human hair, and once injected into the muscle, establish a drug depot that releases the drug into the bloodstream over an extended period of time. The use of this technology in mice completely protected them from the malaria parasite when exposed. This research seeks to remove the need for daily tablets and generate long-acting dosing technologies that may be able to provide therapeutic drug concentrations for months after a single administration.

Prof. Andrew Owen said, “The ability of this nanomedicine to protect from infection by malaria may provide an additional tool in the global arsenal used to combat malaria in non-immune travellers and ultimately people who live in endemic areas of the world. Since atovaquone is already licensed for use in humans and the nanomedicine contains ingredients already used in other medicines, it could be enter clinical trials within a very short timescale.”

More Information: Rahul P. Bakshi et al. Long-acting injectable atovaquone nanomedicines for malaria prophylaxis, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02603-z 

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