4SC AG has announced that its subsidiary 4SC Discovery GmbH will cooperate with Heidelberg University Hospital and receive a EUR 1.3 million government grant for preclinical development work on a new active ingredient targeting resistant strains of malaria.
The research work at Heidelberg University Hospital is a project of the German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF) conducted as part of its 'Malaria' focus.
Funding this project is intended to ensure the completion of all research and formal preclinical development work required on an innovative potential active ingredient for malaria identified by 4SC Discovery. The collaboration between 4SC Discovery and Heidelberg University Hospital is already underway, with the partnership scheduled to continue over the next two years.
Work completed during the joint research venture will focus on developing and optimizing the formulation of the compound for intravenous and oral delivery, as well as GMP (good manufacturing practice) production.
4SC Discovery will also be assuming responsibility for the coordination and completion of preclinical trials (in vitro and in vivo) aimed at testing the drug's pharmacokinetic properties, its safety profile (incl. toxicology) and its efficacy.
The project's ultimate objective is to produce a new clinical drug candidate that can be transitioned directly to clinical development. Ideally, 4SC intends to proceed with out-licensing the compound to an industry or development partner following the successful completion of the project.
The small molecule compound identified by 4SC Discovery has exhibited an encouraging efficacy profile in initial preclinical testing (both in cell cultures and animal models) by successfully killing off the malaria pathogen and effectively inhibiting its proliferation. The aim is to generate a compound that is also effective against plasmodia (malaria causing parsasites), which are resistant to conventional malarial drugs.
World Health Organization (WHO) figures show that malarial disease still posed a threat to 3.4 billion people in 97 countries in 2013. In 2012, about 207 million cases of malaria were recorded, around 627,000 of which were fatal. A tropical disease, malaria is spread by the Anopheles mosquito. Drug resistance is one of the greatest challenges, according to the WHO.
Dr. Daniel Vitt, Managing Director of 4SC Discovery GmbH and Chief Scientific Officer at 4SC AG, comments: 'This collaboration once again confirms the high levels of quality and innovation exhibited by 4SC's drug discovery and early-stage research - even outside our core indication areas of cancer and autoimmune diseases. The project enables us to proceed with work on our innovative compound without major investment on our part. We are also very pleased to have the opportunity to work in this area of medical research with a partner as distinguished as the University of Heidelberg's Parasitology Unit. Aside from the commercial potential in this project, our work is also motivated by the opportunity to generate a clinical drug candidate against malaria and thus conceivably contribute to supporting a major humanitarian cause.'
Prof. Dr. Michael Lanzer, Director Parasitology, Department of Infectious Diseases, Heidelberg University Hospital, and scientist at the DZIF, comments: 'Malaria remains one of humanity's most important unresolved infectious diseases. We are delighted about the collaboration with 4SC. It enables us to provide further scientific validation of the highly promising approach taken by 4SC's compound while researching important new treatment options for malaria.'