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GEN News Highlights : Jul 31, 2012

New Antimicrobial Compounds Starve Malaria

PolyMedix received the second phase of a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant provides funding of up to $1 million per year for three years to support the discovery of a lead anti-malarial product candidate and will continue to fund collaborative work with Doron Greenbaum, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania, to support the development of defensin-mimetic antimicrobial compounds for the treatment of malaria.

This phase was awarded after the team of PolyMedix and the Greenbaum laboratory successfully completed a first phase which included generating proof-of-concept data for the defensin-mimetics through in vitro and in vivo efficacy testing.

PolyMedix’s defensin-mimetics target the digestive vacuole of the parasite that causes malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, via a mechanism distinct from other anti-malarial agents, essentially starving the parasite of food. The data from in vitro and in vivo testing showed PolyMedix’s defensin-mimetics killed the Plasmodium falciparum in infected human red blood cells without damaging uninfected red blood cells. In vivo activity was also seen with a potential lead compound on malaria parasite clearance and animal survival in a mouse malaria model. These data were presented by PolyMedix’s collaborator on the grant, Dr. Greenbaum earlier this year.

“Resistance has developed to many current therapies for malaria,” Dr. Greenbaum commented, “Targeting parasite membranes rather than proteins using PolyMedix’s defensin-mimetics represents a highly innovative and novel approach for treating parasitic diseases. I look forward to collaborating with PolyMedix on this grant.”