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Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT) may help cut malaria by 30 per cent

New Delhi, Tue, 03 Apr 2012 NI Wire

A new study has revealed that, infection of Malaria in the infants can be reduced by 30 percen Malaria infections among infants can be reduced by up to 30 per cent if antimalarial drugs are given sporadically over a 12-month period.

A three-year clinical trial in Papua New Guinea showed the system of drug was quite effective against both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax malaria and this is the first time that any antimalarial drug has been seen to prevent infections by both species of malaria.

The treatment regime, called intermittent preventive treatment (IPT), was seen to protect the infants against malarial for the next six weeks after the treatment was over. This showed that, the treatment regime had a running protective effect and did not affect the growth of natural immunity.

These findings can help us to try the IPT in some other regions; including South-East Asia and South America, where malaria, particularly P.vivax, is a major health problem, said the Lead author Professor Ivo Mueller from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute's Infection and Immunity division.

IPT has been implemented in the sub-Saharan Africa for number of, where over 80 per cent of all deaths causing due to from malaria are children under the age of five.

"Plasmodium vivax is the main cause of clinical malaria in infants outside of Africa," Professor Mueller said.

"What this study has shown is that IPT can be useful in regions other than sub-Saharan Africa, that it can be an effective tool against P.vivax, and reaffirms that we need to effectively tailor preventive drugs to different malaria species in different regions."

IPT uses intermittent, short courses of combined antimalarial drugs which is potentially capable of providing protection against malaria infection.

"IPT is a cheap and easy way to decrease the burden of malaria in those most susceptible to clinical illness, such as young infants and pregnant women," Professor Mueller said.

During the study, infants between the age of 3 to 15 months were treated with a long-lasting antimalarial drug combination at three, six, nine and 12 months respectively as part of the clinical trial.

During the clinical trials, the most effective combination of was the antimalarials sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine and amodiaquine (SP-AQ), which were effective against the two deadly malarial parasites, Plasmodium falciparum and

Plasmodium vivax and were long lasting, said Professor Mueller. The treatment of the patients with SP-AQ combination decreased the infection by 35 percent for Plasmodium falciparum and 23 per cent for Plasmodium vivax.

"These are quite remarkable figures," Professor Mueller said.

"Different treatment strategies are required for different regions, depending on the dynamics of disease. The drug combination that was most effective in PNG was very different to the drugs you would use to treat malaria in Africa and also different to the drugs currently recommended for treating malaria in PNG."

Professor Peter Siba, director of the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR), said one of the major factors in the success of the treatment was running it parallel with ongoing vaccination and healthcare programs.

-With inputs from ANI.

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