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.