Promising malaria treatment “kills” deadly parasite

September 9, 2019

Malaria affect almost 200 million people globally, but the threat of malaria could potentially be reduced to nil as researchers from the Kenyan Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) have recently – and successfully -killed the parasite that causes the disease.

Trials which used Ivermectin, a conventional drug against parasitic diseases, in Burkina Faso, West Africa, reduced transmission rates of malaria by making human blood lethal to mosquitoes. Ivermectin was also noted to kill plasmodium falciparum, the malaria parasite carried by female mosquitoes, when administered to humans.

Kenya’s Health Ministry has reported that its malaria cases have gone up from 16,000 in 2016 to about 18,757 in 2018, as experts warn that the climate crisis could complicate the situation.

However, for children who are more vulnerable to the disease, malaria episodes could be significantly reduced if populations living in high-risk areas are given Ivermectin, according to the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH).

At present, the most effective vaccine against malaria is RTS,S, which was introduced in Africa in 2019 – it was found to prevent approximately 39% of cases of malaria in children aged from five to 17 months.

But as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and several international health agencies warned of resistance to existing antimalarial drugs, the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will perform human trials in Kenya using new drugs derived from Ivermectin.

Dr. Evans Murage, a pharmacist based in Nairobi, Kenya, said of the reports, “There have been cases of resistance due to drug overuse in Thailand and Cambodia, and closer to home in the Democratic Republic of Congo – many who buy drugs from pharmacies suspect they have malaria even without getting tested.”

Similarly, Dr. Simon Kariuki, Head of Kenya’s malaria research programmes at KEMRI, said that bacterial resistance is a never-ending game and urges the development of new treatments soon.

“We have discovered that the bacterium is highly effective in killing the parasite that causes malaria, but our research is more focused on pregnant women and children as they are more vulnerable. We are venturing into producing other drugs following the motivating success of Ivermectin.”

KEMRI thinks new drugs could be developed in less than two years.


Category: Features, Health alert

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