Publicado: Mier, Julio 25, 2018
Salud | Por Gertrudes Rodriquez

Drug to cure recurring malaria approved in 60 years

Drug to cure recurring malaria approved in 60 years

Now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has given the seal of approval to tafenoquine, a drug that can flush the parasite out of its hiding place in the liver and stop people getting it again.

After 60 years, authorities in the United States have approved a pill that will treat malaria.

While malaria deaths in the world have come down by 60 per cent since 2000, the vector-borne disease still kills nearly 400,000 people every year, says the World Health Organisation.

Plasmodium vivax is particularly hard to eradicate because it can lie dormant in the liver for years before reawakening.

Researchers say that affected human beings act as reservoirs for the virus, and mosquitoes can transmit the virus to other people upon a bite.

Recurring malaria - caused by the parasite plasmodium vivax - is the most common type of malaria outside Sub-Saharan Africa.

There is already a medication that can be used to get rid of malaria hiding in the liver called primaquine.

"The ability to get rid of the parasite in the liver with a single dose of tafenoquine is a phenomenal achievement".

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There's a legitimate concern in the medical community that many patients with recurring malaria feel better after a few days of primaquine treatment and don't follow the course to its completion - which isn't almost enough to flush out all the parasites.

The WHO says that India has the third highest burden of malaria, accounts for 6 per cent of malaria cases in the world, 6 per cent of deaths and sees 51 per cent of the global P Vivax cases.

The FDA confirmed that the drug is effective but could come with significant side effects; people with a particular enzyme deficiency (G6PD) can land up with severe anaemia if they take the drug.

Tests for this deficiency are therefore highly recommended before prescription.

Known as tafenoquine, the new drug was developed by GSK.

Dr Hal Barron, president of research and development at GSK, the company that manufactures the drug, said: "The approval of Krintafel [the brand name for tafenonquine] is a significant milestone for people living with relapsing malaria".

"Together with our partner, Medicines for Malaria Venture, we believe Krintafel will. contribute to the ongoing effort to eradicate this disease".

There are also concerns it could be a problem for people with psychiatric illnesses.

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