Research ArticleMalaria

The antimalarial MMV688533 provides potential for single-dose cures with a high barrier to Plasmodium falciparum parasite resistance

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Science Translational Medicine  21 Jul 2021:
Vol. 13, Issue 603, eabg6013
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abg6013

Antimalarial advance

The need for antimalarial drugs is urgent in the face of growing resistance to existing therapies. Murithi et al. characterized MMV688533, an acylguanidine identified from compounds inhibiting known human drug targets that were screened for activity against Plasmodium falciparum. MMV688533 showed rapid in vitro killing of multiple P. falciparum strains as well as P. vivax. A single dose of MMV688533 rapidly reduced parasitemia in a P. falciparum NSG mouse model of infection, and this agent displayed favorable pharmacokinetic and toxicity profiles. MMV688533 selected for only low-grade resistance, with resistant parasites remaining sensitive to existing antimalarials. These findings suggest that MMV688533 is a promising antimalarial candidate with a low resistance risk and the promise of a single-dose cure, which merits further study.

Abstract

The emergence and spread of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to first-line antimalarials creates an imperative to identify and develop potent preclinical candidates with distinct modes of action. Here, we report the identification of MMV688533, an acylguanidine that was developed following a whole-cell screen with compounds known to hit high-value targets in human cells. MMV688533 displays fast parasite clearance in vitro and is not cross-resistant with known antimalarials. In a P. falciparum NSG mouse model, MMV688533 displays a long-lasting pharmacokinetic profile and excellent safety. Selection studies reveal a low propensity for resistance, with modest loss of potency mediated by point mutations in PfACG1 and PfEHD. These proteins are implicated in intracellular trafficking, lipid utilization, and endocytosis, suggesting interference with these pathways as a potential mode of action. This preclinical candidate may offer the potential for a single low-dose cure for malaria.

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