There’s potentially good news in the fight against the deadly scourge of malaria in Kenya. Clinical trials on a new anti-malarial drug that will hopefully tackle more drug-resistant forms of the mosquito-borne disease, are to be conducted in the country from December this year.
The drug KAF156, has been developed by Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical company in collaboration with Medicine for Malaria Venture (MMV). Initial tests with it suggest it has the potential to quickly clear the more resistant strains of malaria as well as block the transmission of the parasite that causes it.
LIVING AND DYING WITH MALARIA IN KENYA
It is estimated by the World Health Organsisation (WHO) that 28 million Kenyans live in malaria-risk infected areas, the disease accounting for one-in-seven of admissions to hospitals in the country, and that tragically it is responsible for 3,000 deaths each year of children aged under five.
Mr David Reddy, the chief executive of MMV said, “We need medicines that are effective across all types of resistant patterns and geographies, and that are easy to administer, especially to children”.
FIRST CLINICAL TRIAL IN SIAYA
The first test of the new drug in Kenya is scheduled to begin in Siaya County, a high-risk malarial area given the proximity of Lake Victoria, with the first patient to be treated as part of the trial by December 4.
The trail programme will then roll out in Kisumu County with the first patient to be treated to be enrolled by the end of March 2018.
“Developing new anti-malarial medicines is critical to achieving malaria elimination. Innovative science continues to be our best weapon against the disease”, said the global head of drug development and chief medical officer at Novartis, Mr Vas Narasinhan.