It is my belief that malaria continues to be a global burden because the drugs that we currently have available to treat and prevent malaria are suboptimal. To address this problem, I have developed innovative methods for finding the molecular starting points that have the potential to revolutionize the way malaria is controlled.
Earlier in her career, Winzeler noticed an insufficiency in the drugs used to prevent and treat malaria. Challenges she found included drugs that allowed people to continue to infect their neighbors once they were cured, drugs for which resistance is widespread, drugs which are toxic, and drugs which do not protect someone from getting malaria. Unfortunately, the malaria community still lacks a fully protective vaccine and bed nets only offer partial protection. In order to address this gap, Winzeler developed a series of low cost, reproducible, miniaturized cellular assays that can inform scientists about whether a chemical compound has the potential to prevent malaria from developing, prevent malaria transmission, relieve symptoms of malaria, or accomplish all three goals.
Winzeler’s work has resulted in two new next generation clinical candidates for treating malaria (KAF156 and KAE609) which are currently in Phase IIb clinical trials. In addition, these successes have had an extraordinary impact on the field of antimalarial drug discovery, with many others adopting Winzeler’s methods and approach in the laboratory. Her research is the foundation of a new pipeline for malaria drugs and the potential basis for treatments that could forever change how the disease is treated.