New Leads for Malaria Discovered: Open Source Pharma FTW!

Happy Scientific Sunday! There’s been some promising news in the field of Anti-Malaria Research! In this new article on Open Science, we are going to talk about the current challenges we face concerning the disease and what the new Open Source Discovery is all about!

In our previous Science articles, we have talked about the Open Source Malaria Project and Open Source Pharma. You might want to look into them before reading on.

How Malaria Affects Lives: Challenges and Facts

Malaria awareness poster
  • Malaria remains one of the world’s most important infectious diseases in spite of considerable progress in fighting it.
  • The deadly disease affects around 216 million people every year.
  • 50% of the world population is at risk of developing the disease.
  • Each year, around 445,000 people die of the disease.
  • Most of these annual deaths are of infants less than 5 years old.
  • The organisms responsible for human malaria are called Plasmodium parasites.
  • Plasmodium falciparum is responsible for most malaria cases, and it is the most deadly.
  • Plasmodium vivax has the greatest global distribution, being the most frequent and widely distributed cause of recurring malaria
  • Travellers rely on short-term chemoprotective anti-malaria drugs
  • People living in endemic regions rely on long-term malaria protection with insecticide-treated nets and vector control.

Limitations of Insecticide-treated nets

  • Insufficient shielding from malaria
  • Loss of potency with time
  • Bulky and difficult to use

There is also a concern of mosquito resistance to the active insecticides used in insecticide-treated nets and vector control.

The new discovery followed from a chemoprotection model to support an ideal antimalarial medicine profile, considering the growing challenges in anti-malarial solutions.

Exoerythrocytic parasites invade and develop in the liver and are responsible for the earliest stage of malaria when no symptoms are noticeable. Chemoprotective medicines typically work against such parasites, safeguarding individuals living near or traveling to areas that have been cleared of parasites. Long-acting chemoprotection in endemic regions could also reduce circulating parasite numbers to a great extent and potentially replace a vaccine through a malaria elimination campaign.

A complex assay requires the production of infected laboratory-reared mosquitoes and hand-dissection of the sporozoite-infected salivary glands from mosquito thoraxes makes it very difficult to perform large-scale searches for the prevention of the disease.

The New Open Source Discovery

The newly discovered 631 Chemoprotective Leads analyzed from 500,000 compounds target the following two known targets:

The successful demonstration of substantially new and diverse chemical leads against the above two targets has now become a comprehensive resource for the anti-malarial research community to accelerate the elimination of malaria with chemoprotection and chemoprevention through Open Source Drug Discovery.

Perhaps this new discovery empowers Open Source AI with some exhaustive new datasets for anti-malarial research? Can we relate? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

DOI i. 10.1126/science.aav7479 & DOI ii. 10.1126/science.aat9446

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