Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Best Way To Treat Malaria: Avoid Using Same Drug For Everyone, Scientists Say

Date:
September 8, 2008
Source:
Princeton University
Summary:
Scientists employing a sophisticated computer model have found that many governments worldwide are recommending the wrong kind of malaria treatment.

A team of scientists employing a sophisticated computer model pioneered at Princeton University and Resources for the Future has found that many governments worldwide are recommending the wrong kind of malaria treatment.

Related Articles


Despite the availability of many drugs and therapies to treat malaria, many countries' national policies recommend using what is known as a single first-line therapy -- that is, using one drug repeatedly with many patients.

Writing in the Sept. 16 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by Maciej Boni, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton and scholar at Resources, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, reports that countries could cut the death rate and forestall the development of drug resistance if a variety of different drugs were distributed to patients.

This approach, known as multiple first-line therapies or MFT, could be put into place by making sure different drugs cost about the same, so that patients would not be forced into buying the cheapest available drug but would choose from a random pool. Or it could be applied by clinic physicians who could simply alternate their choices for drugs they prescribe to patients.

"What we found is that using multiple first-line therapies is the best way to avoid treatment failures and to delay the development of resistance for as long as possible," said Boni, who recently has joined the staff of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

One catch to the researchers' strategy is that multiple effective therapies may not always be available. In some African countries where drug-resistance is already widespread, the only effective therapies are a class of drugs known as artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs).

"MFT does not necessarily solve all our problems," said Boni. "Antimalarial drug development needs to continue with the hope of producing novel and highly effective antimalarials that can be deployed alongside ACTs."

Some 350 to 500 million people are infected with malaria every year by being bitten by a mosquito carrying one of the four human malaria parasites, P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae or P. ovale, according to statistics maintained by the World Health Organization. Falciparum infections are by far the most common, killing more than 1 million people each year. Malaria also contributes indirectly to many more deaths, mainly in young children, among those already suffering from other infections and illnesses. About 60 percent of the cases of malaria worldwide and more than 80 percent of malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

Boni, a mathematician as well as an evolutionary biologist, and his co-authors, Ramanan Laxminarayan and David Smith, designed a computer model with inputs based on more than 100 years of malaria field research. They simulated dozens of treatment paths for a malaria outbreak among patients contrasting many variations of the status quo strategy of using a single first-line therapy with one employing MFT.

They found there were major benefits to employing an MFT strategy, namely, fewer cases of malaria, fewer unsuccessful drug treatments, and a very significant delay in the onset of drug resistance in the parasites. As parasite resistance to antimalarial drugs is the key factor that can make drugs obsolete and useless, delaying and slowing down the evolution of drug-resistance is often viewed as a public health priority when designing strategies for eliminating or controlling malaria.

The computerized analysis conducted by the team represents the most extensive look yet at the question of what works best for large-scale and long-term malaria control. Boni, whose research focuses on the public health consequences of the evolution of infectious diseases, said their study was largely influenced by the work of the theoretical ecologist Simon Levin. Levin, the George M. Moffett Professor of Biology at Princeton, has over the past four decades pioneered techniques that apply rigorous mathematical analysis to biological problems, paving the way for work such as this, according to Boni.

Boni, who earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Princeton in 1999, has been a postdoctoral fellow in Levin's lab as well as in the Princeton Environmental Institute. Laxminarayan is both an economist at Resources for the Future in Washington, D.C., and a visiting research scholar at the Princeton Environmental Institute. Smith, who earned his doctoral degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton in 1998, is a mathematical epidemiologist and faculty member at the University of Florida.

The work was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Princeton University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Princeton University. "Best Way To Treat Malaria: Avoid Using Same Drug For Everyone, Scientists Say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080905153810.htm>.
Princeton University. (2008, September 8). Best Way To Treat Malaria: Avoid Using Same Drug For Everyone, Scientists Say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080905153810.htm
Princeton University. "Best Way To Treat Malaria: Avoid Using Same Drug For Everyone, Scientists Say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080905153810.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins