Study suggests new malaria treatment for children

Malaria is spread through a parasite that is carried by mosquitoes.

A combination of artemisinin and naphthoquine can be used to create a new drug therapy for children diagnosed with uncomplicated malaria, University of Western Australia researchers said recently.

There are several different types of parasite species that bring about malaria, but there are two that are most dangerous: Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum. These two strains are not equally responsive to antimalarial drugs. Scientists previously believed that they needed to create different drugs for each type of parasite.

Researchers led by Tim Davis at the University of Western Australia proved this practice wrong by creating a new drug therapy that is a combination of artemisinin-naphthoquine. The drug is specially designed for children in regions where malaria is spread through multiple types of parasites.

Researchers recently compared their artemisinin-naphthoquine treatment with the current recommended malaria treatment of artemether-lumefantrine.

Their controlled, randomized study involved 47 children diagnosed with Plasmodium vivax malaria infections and 186 children with Plasmodium falciparum infections.

Their results showed that the new artemisinin-naphthoquine treatment is just as effective at treating the Plasmodium falciparum infections as the current recommended therapy. The new treatment also proved more effect against Plasmodium vivax than the current recommended treatment.

Malaria is spread through a parasite that is carried by mosquitoes. The disease is responsible for approximately 600,000 deaths each year.

More details are available in the original publication in PLOS Medicine.