Archive by category | Malaria

Antimalarial armament remains strong, despite lingering concerns over drug resistance

Antimalarial armament remains strong, despite lingering concerns over drug resistance

Earlier this month, Indian regulatory authorities granted conditional approval to the country’s first homegrown drug, a malaria-fighting pill that combines a new synthetic form of artemisinin with an older antimalarial compound called piperaquine. If the decision is ratified by the country’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, the new drug — developed from start to finish by the New Delhi-based pharmaceutical company Ranbaxy Laboratories — will add to doctors’ armament of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), the World Health Organization’s medicine of choice for tackling the parasite. Yet with so many options, the question is: which ACT is actually best at treating the infectious disease?  Read more

Better animal models needed for malaria vaccine development, experts say

Better animal models needed for malaria vaccine development, experts say

On Tuesday, highly-anticipated preliminary results from a phase 3 clinical trial of the RTS,S vaccine against malaria found that vaccinated young children had a 56% lower risk of developing the infection. The vaccine’s maker, London’s GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has been involved with the vaccine since the early 1980s. But its history goes back further to mouse research conducted at New York University (NYU) in the 1960s. Yet, despite a half century of research into malaria vaccines and numerous clinical trials, laboratory models of the disease have changed little — a fact that experts say could be hindering the development of new vaccines.  Read more

New malaria studies challenges us to think outside the net

New malaria studies challenges us to think outside the net

We’ve seen prophylactic use of medicines in the headlines, most recently with the November 2010 news that taking a preventative dose of the HIV drug Truvada cut the risk of infection by 44% among gay and bisexual men. Two studies published yesterday apply the idea of prophylactic drug use to malaria, and suggest that giving young children anti-malarial drugs might outweigh the risk of facing future resistant parasites in malaria-endemic countries.  Read more

India’s hidden malaria burden

India’s hidden malaria burden

The World Health Organization (WHO) may be vastly underestimating the number of deaths from malaria in India, according to a report appearing in The Lancet today. Currently, the WHO pegs India’s malaria death rate at 15,000 per year. The authors estimate that the figure is actually thirteen-fold higher, somewhere between 125,000 and 277,000 deaths per year; their best estimate is about 205,000 deaths per year.  Read more

Once-maligned malaria drug could get a second chance

Once-maligned malaria drug could get a second chance

The medication sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, or “SP”, is currently used to treat malaria in pregnant women in the developing world. It works by disrupting the malaria parasite’s ability to make folic acid, which is a key component of nucleotide synthesis. It’s inexpensive, too, costing 15 cents for a course of treatment as opposed to $1 for a similar course of artemisin-based therapy. This alone should make it an attractive option for widespread use, but for a not-so-slight problem: up until now, research seemed to show that the most common malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, was rapidly becoming resistant to SP.  Read more

Is malaria research focusing its efforts in the right place?

Is malaria research focusing its efforts in the right place?

Currently, the bulk of the scientific community’s firepower is aimed at Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of the four known malaria-causing parasites. But researchers are starting to pay closer attention to Plasmodium vivax, which has heretofore lurked in its cousin’s shadow. Both P. falciparum and P. vivax invade liver cells as part of their life cycle, but P. vivax can lie dormant in the liver for much longer periods of time, potentially causing a relapse of malaria years after the initial infection.  Read more

The big malaria split

The big malaria split

Celebrities and politicians have been putting their twittering thumbs to work this week to raise funds for bednets (to protect people in malaria-endemic regions). Bill Gates, one of those tweeting on the subject, also went on record saying it the lack of attention to malaria vaccine research a decade ago was “criminal”.  Read more

(Not so) evil DDT — and goodbye

A new study published Monday in Environmental Health Perspectives revives fears about the pesticide environmentalists everywhere love to hate: DDT. Researchers examined 129 women who were exposed to the pesticide as children and found that the women had a whopping 400% increase in breast cancer risk.  Read more