Development of New Strategies for Malaria Chemoprophylaxis: From Monoclonal Antibodies to Long-Acting Injectable Drugs.

07 Apr 2022
Moehrle JJ
Drug discovery for malaria has traditionally focused on orally available drugs that kill the abundant, parasitic blood stage. Recently, there has also been an interest in injectable medicines, in the form of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) with long-lasting plasma half-lives or long-lasting depot formulations of small molecules. These could act as prophylactic drugs, targeting the sporozoites and other earlier parasitic stages in the liver, when the parasites are less numerous, or as another intervention strategy targeting the formation of infectious gametocytes. Generally speaking, the development of mAbs is less risky (costly) than small-molecule drugs, and they have an excellent safety profile with few or no off-target effects. Therefore, populations who are the most vulnerable to malaria, i.e., pregnant women and young children would have access to such new treatments much faster than is presently the case for new antimalarials. An analysis of mAbs that were successfully developed for oncology illustrates some of the feasibility aspects, and their potential as affordable drugs in low- and middle-income countries.