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Determining drug efficacy through parasite clearance half-life may underestimate the activity of some antimalarial drugs, and the WHO publishes new guidance on the use of genetically modified mosquitoes.
The gold standard for assessing the efficacy of antimalarial drugs is to measure the parasite clearance half-life: the time it takes for the number of circulating parasites to be reduced by half. New research has indicated that parasite viability should also be taken into account. Although malaria parasites may still circulate in the blood, they may no longer be viable following treatment. When measuring the viability of parasites following artesunate treatment, researchers found that the viability of the parasites fell to less than 0.1% of the baseline within 8 hours of treatment, despite PCR analysis showing no change in parasite numbers. These results suggest that the activity of certain antimalarial drugs may be underestimated by using parasite clearance half-life as a measure of efficacy.
The WHO has recognised the potential value of genetically-modified mosquitoes in malaria control but have stressed the importance of evaluating its implications.
Image Credits: CDC/ Dr. Mae Melvin [2704 via Wikimedia]
Scientific Advisor: Katharine Collins, Radboud University Medical Centre