A new medication for malaria can safely and effectively cure the deadly disease, say scientists who have successfully completed a clinical trial for the drug combination.
For the study, researchers from Tubingen Institute of Tropical Medicine and German company Deutschen Malaria GmbH tested the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a combination of the drugs Fosmidomycin and Piperaquine.
The two-fold medication was administered for three days to patients aged one to thirty who were infected with malaria via the Plasmodium falciparum pathogen.
In the 83 evaluable cases, there was a 100 per cent cure rate, according to the study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Patients tolerated the treatment well, and it led to a swift reduction of clinical symptoms. Safety issues were limited to changes in electrocardiogram readings, as had been described for Piperaquine.
"This study represents a milestone in the clinical research into Fosmidomycin," said Peter Kremsner, a professor at Tubingen, who developed the drug combination.
The substance was originally extracted from Streptomyces lavendulae and today can be produced synthetically. It blocks a metabolic pathway for the production of Isoprenoid in the malaria pathogen.
This makes the malaria pathogen unable to metabolise or reproduce.
Since Isoprenoids are formed via a different synthesis path in the human body, humans have no target structures for Fosmidomycin.
For this reason humans tolerate the drug well and suffer barely any side effects. In addition, this unique mechanism excludes the possibility of cross-resistance to the drugs used in earlier malaria treatments.
The new combination meets World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for combination therapies. The two drugs mechanisms against differing target structures means that they attack the parasite in the bloodstream independently of one another.
This meets WHO requirements for a fast and effective treatment of the acute phase of infection, and for protection against relapse due to reappearance of the infection.
The researchers say the effective mechanism helps to delay the formation of a possible resistance. Further studies are in planning to optimise dose, researchers said.