Every year, malaria afflicts hundreds of millions of people and kills hundreds of thousands of children. Despite considerable success in reducing the worldwide prevalence of malaria, its incidence in visitors to endemic areas has continued to rise steadily.
Currently, the best available prevention of malaria requires oral dosing of antimalarial tablets. Chronic oral dosing of these medicines has significant complications because healthy people need to strictly adhere to the medication in order for effective prophylaxis to occur.
A new study, published in Nature Communications highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.
The study aimed to utilize nanotechnology to improve the delivery of an existing antimalarial drug via a novel injectable format that can maintain blood concentration of the drug for weeks or months following a single dose.
Solid Drug Nanoparticles (SDNs) are a nanotechnology with favorable characteristics to enhance drug exposure and improve the treatment or prevention of several diseases, including HIV and malaria.
The team have previously shown SDNs to be effective for oral delivery of drugs, but this is the first time they have shown benefits for a long-acting injectable (LAI) format. These particles have an approximate diameter that is 1/500th the width of a human hair, and once injected into the muscle, establish a drug depot that releases drug into the bloodstream over an extended period of time.
Through the use of this technology the team developed an LAI version of a daily anti-malarial tablet (atovaquone) which provided prophylactic blood concentrations in mice for a period of 28 days. Moreover, mice injected with the nanomedicine were completely protected from the malaria parasite when exposed during this time, and since mice eliminate the drug much more rapidly in humans, a much longer duration of protection might be expected in people.