Researchers at the CSIR have begun screening thousands of synthetic compounds in an effort to identify those that might form the basis for a new generation of drugs that will be able to permanently disrupt the life-cycle of the malaria parasite in order to eventually eradicate the disease, rather than to treat or cure it.
Central to the current global malaria eradication strategy is the need to develop a new generation of drugs that possess the ability to block malaria transmission, preventing the cycle of infection. However there are major challenges in finding the right compounds, due to the limited ability to accurately replicate, in vitro, key stages associated with disease transmission; the unique metabolic homeostasis of malaria during these stages; and significant bottlenecks associated with producing sufficient biomass from these stages for drug screening.
Together with collaborators from the South African Malaria Transmission Blocking Consortium, and MMV and its global partners, the CSIR has developed robust validated methods for generating high-yield, high-quality Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte forms which tracks disease transmission from humans to the mosquito vector. Conversely, we have developed models of mosquito sporozoite to human infection, which monitors the process responsible for completing the infection cycle. High-throughput screening technologies are also being developed, ultimately enabling the most comprehensive portfolio to date of transmission blocking compounds to be curated for exploitation by the pharmaceutical industry and the global research and development community.