World IP Day 26 April - World Malaria Day, 25 April 2013

26 Apr 2013 - 11:45

With World Malaria Day falling adjacent to World IP Day UCT elected to celebrate these important days by highlighting three patent families in our IP Portfolio targeting malaria prevention or treatment.

Malaria is prevalent in many developing countries, with approximately 40% of the world's population living in countries where the disease is endemic; approximately 247 million people suffer from the disease every year. World Malaria Day was instituted by WHO Member States during the 2007 World Health Assembly. It is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control. It is also an opportunity for new donors to join the global malaria partnership, and for research and academic institutions to showcase their scientific work. World Malaria Day will be celebrated on 25 April 2013, with the global campaign theme: Invest in the future. Defeat malaria.

UCT collaborates with multiple organisations to develop new anti-malarial agents.

A novel class of potent anti-malarial agents, in the form of aminopyrazine derivatives, has been developed by Professor Kelly Chibale and Yassir Younis (both from the Department of Chemistry), together with external collaborators. Successful candidates from this class of compounds will potentially be useful for both treatment and prevention of malaria. The aminopyrazine class of compounds show activity against various stages in the life-cycle of the malaria parasite and have the potential to block the transmission of the malaria parasite from person to person via the mosquito. This follows on from the recently announced "single dose malaria cure" breakthrough made by the H-3D Drug Discovery Centre (H-3D) and its collaborators. The aminopyrazines are potential back up compounds to this potential cure. Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) is a non-profit foundation created to discover, develop and deliver affordable anti-malarial drugs to the market. MMV is the lead on this patent application and will in conjunction with the H-3D seek to develop safe drugs from these lead molecules through clinical trials.

The development of new compounds is crucial in the continuing battle against malaria as the development of drug resistance against known drugs continues to emerge. A new class of anti-malarial agents, in the form of dibemethins, with a specific subset of derivatives which are also found to have chloroquine resistance reversal capabilities, has been developed by Professors Timothy Egan, Roger Hunter and Dr Vincent Zishiri (Department of Chemistry). This is an early-stage pharmaceutical product that is still in the research phase and has demonstrated in vitro efficacy which shows great promise. Patents have been filed in several African countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa.

UCT has also collaborated, though the work of Dr Gilbert Matsabisa and team, with the Medical Research Council (MRC) Indigenous Knowledge Unit, on an invention that is harnessing traditional knowledge to tackle malaria. The patent covers a process for the production of anti-malarial agents from the roots of the plant species Dicoma anomala, commonly known as the "Fever bush". These agents have potential for both the treatment and prevention of malaria, by targeting the parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.