Efficacy of OZ439 (artefenomel) against early Plasmodium falciparum blood-stage malaria infection in healthy volunteers

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Abstract

Objectives

OZ439, or artefenomel, is an investigational synthetic ozonide antimalarial with similar potency, but a significantly improved pharmacokinetic profile, compared with artemisinins. We wished to measure key pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic parameters and the pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationship of artefenomel in humans to guide the drug's further development as combination therapy in patients.

Patients and methods

We tested artefenomel in the human induced blood-stage malaria (IBSM) model. Plasmodium infection was monitored by quantitative PCR (qPCR) and upon reaching 1000 parasites/mL single doses of 100, 200 and 500 mg of artefenomel were administered orally with evaluation of drug exposure and parasitaemia until rescue treatment after 16 days or earlier, if required.

Results

A single 100 mg dose had only a transient effect, while the 200 mg dose resulted in a significant reduction in parasitaemia before early recrudescence. At the highest (500 mg) dose, initial clearance of parasites below the limit of detection of qPCR was observed, with a 48 h parasite reduction ratio (PRR48) >10 000 and a parasite clearance half-life of 3.6 h (95% CI 3.4–3.8 h). However, at this dose, recrudescence was seen in four of eight subjects 6–10 days after treatment. Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modelling predicted an MIC of 4.1 ng/mL.

Conclusions

These results confirm the antimalarial potential of artefenomel for use in a single-exposure combination therapy. The observations from this study support and will assist further clinical development of artefenomel.

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