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The discovery of a new class of dual-acting antimalarial compounds – the imidazolopiperazines (IZPs) – has been published online in the journal Science.
The compounds target both liver and blood infections, attacking the Plasmodium parasite at both stages in its reproduction cycle.
Researchers developed a novel assay to determine liver stage activity of candidate small molecules, using the assay and other tools to identify and optimise a chemical scaffold with activity on both blood- and liver-stage parasites in malaria mouse models.
The findings were the result of collaboration between the Scripps Research Institute, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research (NIBR), Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) and the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD).
This is the second new class of antimalarials discovered by the same group in the last two years and holds promise as a next-generation treatment for malaria if confirmed.
Researchers believe that future antimalarials will need to work against both blood and liver stages to bring us closer to the goal of eliminating malaria globally.