4SC Discovery, a subsidiary of the Frankfurt, Germany-based small molecule drug developer 4SC, is teaming up with Heidelberg University Hospital and also receiving a EUR 1.3 million ($1.79 million) government grant toward preclinical development of a new active ingredient that can target strains of malaria resistant to conventional drugs. This collaboration, which has already gotten started, is scheduled to continue over the next two years.

4SC Discovery has discovered a small molecule compound that the firm says was quite effective in initial preclinical testing in both cell cultures and animal models, successfully killing off the malaria pathogen and inhibiting its proliferation. The aim of the collaboration will be to produce a compound that will also work against plasmodia, malaria-causing parasites, which are resistant to conventional malarial drugs. 

The subsidiary and Heidelberg will focus on developing and optimizing the formulation of the compound for intravenous and oral delivery as well as GMP production. 4SC Discovery will also be in charge of coordinating and completing in vitro and in vivo preclinical trials. The project's ultimate aim will be to produce a new drug candidate that can be transitioned directly to clinical development. However, 4SC is planning to outlicense the compound once the project is completed as malaria is not one of the firm's core indication areas.

The research being done at Heidelberg University Hospital is a project of the German Centre for Infection Research, conducted as part of its “Malaria” focus. The funding provided by the German government, 4SC says, is intended to ensure all research and formal preclinical development work required is completed.

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