Washington: A parasitic-worm-killing drug, whose discovery won the Nobel Prize, can also be effective against malaria, according to a recent study.
Researchers from Colorado State University and the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Sante presented preliminary results from a trial in the West African country of Burkina Faso that show approximately 16 percent reduction in childhood malaria episodes caused predominantly by the deadly malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in four villages where, for the last few months, the majority of the population has been receiving a single dose of the anti-parasite drug ivermectin every three weeks.
The villages are located in an area that experiences a high burden of both malaria and worm diseases, raising the possibility of addressing several health problems at once.
Lead investigator Brian D. Foy said that these are preliminary results but researchers expect to see further reductions in malaria fevers as they continue with the trial, which is occurring during the rainy season when malaria transmission typically peaks.
Foy noted that the drop in malaria fevers with the ivermectin treatment is in addition to whatever is being achieved with insecticide treated bednets, which are in widespread use in all of the villages participating in the study.
Foy added that ivermectin’s potential efficacy as a malaria control strategy differs from the drug’s use against worm diseases because ivermectin is not intended to actually cure a malaria infection. Rather, he said it is intended to reduce infections that lead to fevers in children by interrupting local transmission of Plasmodium parasites.
“We’re at a critical moment in the fight against malaria where drug and insecticide resistance is threatening hard-won progress,” said Christopher V. Plowe, president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. “It’s important to actively develop new tools and strategies–including re-purposing old tools–to keep pushing down malaria.”
The study has been presented at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) Annual Meeting. (ANI)