Comprehensive assessment of novel artemisinin-based combination regimens for treatment of malaria in Papua New Guinea [ 2005 - 2007 ]

Also known as: Novel combination therapies for malaria

Research Grant

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Researchers: Prof Timothy Davis (Principal investigator) ,  A/Pr Harin Karunajeewa Kenneth Ilett Prof Hugh Barrett Prof John Reeder
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Brief description Malaria is one of the most important causes of death and disease in Australia's closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea (PNG). The cornerstone of strategies to tackle malaria is the provision of prompt and effective drug treatment for those at risk. Unfortunately older drugs are becoming ineffective due to development of resistance and most newer drugs are too expensive for poor countries. As in sub-Saharan Africa, a looming public health disaster awaits the imminent loss of effectiveness of affordable antimalarials in PNG. There are however some new drugs that may be highly effective and relatively cheap but require further evaluation before they can be deployed. The new artemisinin drugs from China are cheap, safe and effective. However they must be combined with a second drug to ensure cure and to prevent the development of resistance, a stragegy known as artemisinin combination therapy (ACT). The World Health Organisation has endorsed ACT but finding a suitable 2nd drug to combine with the artemisinin drug has been challenging. Our group has pioneered research into the drug piperaquine, which we believe may be the best affordable drug to combine with artemisinin drugs. Piperaquine was first synthesised in the 1960's and was shown to be effective in Chinese studies in the 1970's, but little is known of its blood levels, metabolism and interactions with other drugs in humans. We plan to carry out laboratory studies, studies in healthy volunteers, and field studies in PNG children with malaria that should provide detailed information about piperaquine and its potential role in ACT for malaria. This will help us to develop better dosing formulations and to maximise the effectiveness of this treatment. Development and registration of a piperaquine-containing ACT would consititute a new and potent weapon in the fight against malaria in PNG and other tropical countries.

Funding Amount $AUD 529,500.00

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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