The first novel anti-malaria drug-compound, P218, discovered by NSTDA’s research team to enter preclinical research studies through a joint venture between NSTDA and MMV

The World Health Organization has designated April 25th of each year to commemorate World Malaria Day to highlight the global malaria burden.  More than 200 million people suffer from malaria each year. Children are most vulnerable as more than 90% of the 600,000 malaria deaths that occurred annually are children under 5 years of age.  Leading world’s experts are worried that we will not only see more malaria cases in the future but also more cases that will be harder to treat as the effectiveness of current drug treatments are compromised due to the emergence and spread of drug resistant malaria.  Other scientists have also pointed to the links between climate change and increase outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria. 

This year’s theme “Invest in the Future, Defeat Malaria – World Malaria Day 2014” highlights the needs for investment in research and development for new health technology and tools to fight malaria.   To mark this occasion, NSTDA is announcing that it will enter a new phase of joint research venture with the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), a Switzerland-based non-profit organization promoting public-private partnerships in malaria drug R&D, to engage in preclinical evaluation of a novel anti-malaria compound, P218.  The joint research venture will be the highlight in the upcoming “World Malaria Conference 2014” to be held on May 1st, between 9am to 12pm at the Century Park Hotel in Bangkok.  The Conference will include plenary sessions by leading Thai and MMV scientists including Dr. Tim Wells, Chief Scientific Officer/MMV, Professor Dr. Srivicha Krusood, Faculty of Tropical Medicine/ Mahidol University, and Dr. Yongyuth Yuthavong, Expert Senior Researcher/NSTDA.  Topics will include Malaria drug development pipeline, discovery and development of anti-malarial P218, current trends in malaria treatment.  In addition, the conference will also feature malaria research portfolio at NSTDA under the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) and the National Nanotechnology Center (NANOTEC).  The conference will conclude with the MOU signing ceremony between NSTDA and MMV.

Discovered by the Thai research team led by Dr. Yongyuth Yuthavong, Expert Senior Researcher at NSTDA/BIOTEC, together with MMV, the patented P218 compound was designed based-on 3-dimentional structures of malaria protein targets in order to circumvent mutations that had led to pyrimethamine resistant, a safe and previously effective drug for treatment of malaria.  Laboratory results conducted at BIOTEC and MMV’s partner institutions have confirmed that the patented design of P218 can kill both normal and pyrimethamine resistant parasites.

In the new phase of NSTDA-MMV joint research venture, the objective will be to gather evidence for proof-of-concept for human use of P218 compound meeting international GLP standard.  If successful, it will be a great leap forward in drug research and discovery program for the country, as this will be Thailand’s first example of novel design drug-compound to enter clinical trial.     

As we commemorate World Malaria Day on April 25th, we are reminded of the enormous burden that malaria has on the most innocent and vulnerable people.  A child dies from malaria every 45 seconds; a solemn statistics that motivates scientists at NSTDA to discover new cures for malaria.

Registration to the World Malaria Day Conference 2014 is free.  For inquiry or for registration, please contact 02-644-8150 ext. 81830.

Posted on 25 April 2014