Drug discovery for elimination

We focus on the discovery of compounds with transmission-blocking activity, i.e. compounds able to either kill gametocytes or gametes and thereby prevent transmission to mosquitoes.

Whilst malaria therapeutics must be able to kill the asexual pathogenic forms of malaria parasites, very few of them effectively kill the transmissible, gametocyte forms of the parasite and are essentially not useful to block the spread of the disease. To contribute to global malaria elimination, we therefore try and find new transmission-blocking antimalarials. We use our biological knowledge to identify the gametocyte’s weak spots to effectively and specifically kill these forms of the parasite.

We have the largest and most specialized transmission-blocking screening platform in Africa, where we can analyse compounds for stage-specific gametocytocidal activity, male and female gamete activity and (with WITS University), an artificial mosquito feeding system.  This platform supports all ongoing antimalarial drug discovery programs in South Africa, and we are the Global Test Centre for  stage-specific gametocytocidal assays for the Medicines for Malaria Venture.

Projects are funded by the South African DSI & Medical Research Council Strategic Health Innovation Partnership (SHIP) with the Medicines for Malaria Venture.

Current collaborations:

South African Malaria Drug Discovery Consortium: Prof Kelly Chibale, H3D, UCT; Prof Lizette Koekemoer, WITS; Prof Theresa Coetzer, WITS; Dr Anjo Theron, CSIR

MMV: Didier Leroy, Esperanza Herreros, James Duffy


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