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Novel Malaria Treatment for Children Gets First Approval

Novel Malaria Treatment for Children Gets First Approval

Australian regulatory authorities have approved a simple drug combination as an effective malaria treatment for children aged 12 to 16. But the World Health Organization (WHO) and other countries have yet to approve the drug tafenoquine.

What Is Malaria?

Malaria is an infectious disease due to a single-celled parasite from the genus plasmodium. It then transfers to humans through mosquito bites. The disease can cause symptoms such as:

Some people who have malaria go through cycles of malaria “attacks,” which typically begin with shivering and chills. Subsequently, it is followed by a high fever, sweating, and a return to normal temperature.

Malaria symptoms usually appear several weeks after the mosquito bite. Some malaria parasites, on the other hand, can remain dormant in the body for approximately a year.

The Collaboration Behind the Development of the New Malaria Treatment

The Medicine for Malaria Venture (MMV), together with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), developed and manufactured tafenoquine under the brand name Kozenis. Doctors may administer this medication in addition to the standard chloroquine treatment since it can effectively treat Plasmodium vivax malaria, the most common mosquito species in South and Southeast Asia, South America, and the Horn of Africa.

Every year, P. vivax affects up to 5 million people with malaria. It can also live in the liver, causing relapses months or years after the initial infection. These episodes can result in severe anemia, permanent brain damage, and even death. Moreover, children from 2 to 6 years old are four times more likely than adults to contract the disease.

The Food and Drug Administration ratified 300 milligrams of tafenoquine in July 2018 for the “radical cure” of P. vivax malaria in adults and adolescents aged 16 and up. Drug regulators from countries such as Australia, Brazil, Thailand, and Peru also granted the treatment with similar approvals.

What’s New With the Children’s Formulation of Tafenoquine

The new children’s formulation comes in the form of a single 50-milligram tablet dispersed in water. This is more convenient for children to take than the current 7- or 14-day course of pills developed for adults.

This malaria treatment can help prevent further complications like breathing problems, organ failure, and low blood sugar. Furthermore, it can help prevent relapses from occurring.

“We are proud to have worked with GSK to develop this child-friendly treatment and are thrilled by today’s announcement. P. vivax malaria is particularly dangerous for young children for whom repeated relapses can lead to cumulative severe anemia and, in some cases, be fatal. Today, we have a tool to put a stop to the relentless relapse both for adults and children – we are one step closer to defeating this disease,” the chief executive of the MMV, David Reddy, said in a statement.

According to George Jagoe, executive vice president of the nonprofit MMV, the malaria treatment will be submitted for review and approval in nine different countries, as well as to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Approximately 62% of the children studied encountered some side effects. One in every five children vomited as a result of the treatment. The malaria treatment was 95% effective at preventing recurrence of malaria symptoms after four months.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that is among the deadliest infectious diseases common in tropical and subtropical countries. It infects nearly 290 million people every year with over 400,000 people dying as a result of the disease.

While the malaria treatment is still undergoing the approval process among other health authorities, WHO advised the use of the malaria vaccine for children living in malaria-endemic countries.

Learn more about Infection from Insects here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Fiel Tugade Updated 3 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Vincent Sales