Early promise for new antimalarial drug

December 12, 2002

Preliminary results of a study in this week's issue of THE LANCET suggest that there may be a new treatment option for people who have become resistant to conventional treatments for malaria.

Safe and effective antimalarial drugs with new methods of action are urgently needed as resistance to conventional drug therapies such as chloroquine and sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine has created a severe public-health problem, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

The antibiotic fosmidomycin has been shown to be effective in laboratory studies by its inhibition of a key enzyme produced by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite. Peter Kremsner from the University of Tübingen, Germany, and colleagues administered the drug for 5, 4, or 3 days (1.2 g every 8hours), in nine, eight, and ten malaria patients in Gabon. The drug was well tolerated, and cure rates after two weeks were 89%, 88%, and 60%, for treatment durations of 5, 4, and 3 days, respectively. Parasite elimination and reduction in fever was rapid.

Peter Kremsner comments: "These data suggest that fosmidomycin is a safe and effective treatment for malaria in adult Africans if given for 4 days or more. Further studies on combinations of fosmidomycin with other antimalarial drugs are needed to assess its safety and efficacy in children and to boost efficacy while benefiting from a shorter and simpler treatment regimen."


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