The first line treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria is artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), which consists of an artemisinin derivative co-administered with a longer acting partner drug. However, the spread of Plasmodium falciparum resistant to both artemisinin and its partner drugs poses a major global threat to malaria control activities. Novel strategies are needed to retard and reverse the spread of these resistant parasites. One such strategy is triple artemisinin-based combination therapy (TACT). We developed a mechanistic within-host mathematical model to investigate the efficacy of a TACT (dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine-mefloquine - DHA-PPQ-MQ), for use in South-East Asia, where DHA and PPQ resistance are now increasingly prevalent. Comprehensive model simulations were used to explore the degree to which the underlying resistance influences the parasitological outcomes. The effect of MQ dosing on the efficacy of TACT was quantified at varying degrees of DHA and PPQ resistance. To incorporate interactions between drugs, a novel model is presented for the combined effect of DHA-PPQ-MQ, which illustrates how the interactions can influence treatment efficacy. When combined with a standard regimen of DHA and PPQ, the administration of three 6.7 mg/kg doses of MQ was sufficient to achieve parasitological efficacy greater than that currently recommended by WHO guidelines. As a result, three 8.3 mg/kg doses of MQ, the current WHO recommended dosing regimen of MQ, combined with DHA-PPQ, has potential to produce high cure rates in the regions where resistance to DHA-PPQ has emerged.
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