Preparing the ground in the Brazilian Amazon for a new antimalarial to reduce relapse

25 Apr 2018

Elodie Jambert & Elizabeth Poll, Medicines for Malaria Venture; Panayota Bird, GSK; and Dr Marcus Lacerda, Fiocruz

The Amazon is a renowned hotspot for biodiversity, but it’s also a hotspot for malaria. Brazil is one of the Latin American countries with the heaviest burden of malaria, with its Amazon region accounting for 99.5 percent of all national cases. 

Tackling malaria in Brazil is complicated by the fact that the vast majority of the burden is caused by the malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax. After causing an initial bout of malaria symptoms, this species of parasite has the ability to hide dormant in the liver of infected people, only to re-emerge and cause symptoms again several weeks to several months after initial infection. Another compounding issue is that the only medicine currently available to stop such relapse is primaquine–a medicine approved in the 1950s that must be taken for at least seven days. Given this lengthy course of treatment, many patients fail to complete the full course. It’s a challenge to explain to patients why they should take seven days of pills to treat something that appears to have resolved after the third day (the duration of treatment of the initial acute P. vivax malaria bout). As a result, the medicine often doesn’t work, and transmission of relapsing malaria is perpetuated....

Read the full article on the GHTC website.