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Combination drug treatment can cut malaria by 30 per cent

Burnet Institute

30 March, 2012

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Combination drug treatment can cut malaria infection in infants by 30 per cent.

A new malaria drug regime tested in Papua New Guinea can cut malaria infections in infants by up to 30 per cent.

Burnet’s Head of Immunology Professor James Beeson and Professor John Reeder, formally of Burnet, now the Director of the Special Programme on for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization collaborated with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) on the project.

The three-year trial showed this new regime was effective against both plasmodium falciparum and plasmodium vivax. This is the first time a drug treatment has shown to prevent infections by both strains of malaria.

Called Intermittent Preventative Treatment (IPT), the regime protected infants tested against malaria for at least six weeks, showing that it provided ongoing protection and did not stop the development of natural immunity.

Professor Ivo Mueller from WEHI’s Infection and Immunity Division said IPT has been used for a number of years in sub-Saharan Africa, but could lead to trials in South-East Asia and South America.

“What this study has shown is that IPT can be useful in regions other than sub-Saharan Africa, that is can be an effective tool against P.vivax, and reaffirms that we need to effectively tailor preventative drugs to different malaria species in different regions,” Professor Mueller said.

The trial involved treating infants three to 15 months with long-lasting antimalarial drug combination at three, six, nine and 12 months.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supported this project, which was lead by WEHI and the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research and collaborated on by Burnet Insitute and the University of Melbourne.

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