Sanofi is extending its collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture to jointly develop a one-shot, fixed-dose combination therapy for malaria, the world’s deadliest parasitic disease that claims more than half a million lives a year.

The groups began a three-year research project back in 2011 to develop drug candidates from Sanofi's compounds selected for potential activity against malaria parasites, which yielded two potential treatments.

OZ439/Piperaquine and OZ439/Ferroquine are both single shot combination therapies independent of artemisin, which could offer crucial advantages given that resistance to the latter drug is on the rise. Also, current artemisin-based regimens are dosed over three days, so the availability of a one-shot option could greatly increase compliance.

Extension of the Sanofi/MMV agreement will allow Phase IIb trials for OZ439/Ferroquine to begin this summer. OZ439/Piperaquine is already in a Phase IIb clinical trial, and when both are finished a joint steering group will decide whether these candidates will progress to late-stage development, the partners said.