New drug may present alternative malaria treatment for pregnant women

Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP), a new drug, may be an effective alternative to existing treatments researchers from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) in the United Kingdom recently found. 

"Malaria in pregnancy remains a significant public health problem, and in areas of high resistance to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine it is clear that an alternative treatment is needed,” LSTM Professor and Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium Head Feiko her Kuile.

The research was conducted in Kenya in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Kenya Medical Research Institution. Researchers tested two treatment strategies, one using rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) and treating RDT-positive women with DP and one administering DP as a preventative treatment, the latter of which was successful.

“Our study showed that test-and-treat approaches are not a suitable alternative, at least not with the current generation of rapid diagnostic tests, which still miss many infections; however, it is a positive sign that prevention with the new drug dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine fared well in the study, and could be a promising alternative to SP following further investigation," Kuile said.

Full findings from the study recently were published in The Lancet.

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