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[afro-nets] World Malaria Day on 25 April: Urgent call for research to meet drug resistance challenge

World Malaria Day on 25 April
Urgent call for research to meet drug resistance challenge

Since 2007 an increase in malaria control and prevention has saved many lives. 
World Malaria Day on 25 April 2011 aims to acknowledge this achievement and to 
enhance awareness of the urgent tasks yet to be done. A staggering number of 
881.000 people still die from malaria every year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa 
(91%), most of them (85%) children under 5 years of age. The growing risk of 
resistance against effective antimalarial drugs is one of the threats to the 
international ambition to eliminate malaria deaths by 2015. The European and 
Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) fully supports the 
global call to action. Its current investment in fighting malaria stands at € 
68.73 million for clinical research.

EDCTP contributes to the fight against malaria by funding research into 
development of more new drugs and drug combinations, clinical development of 
novel vaccine candidates and enhanced clinical trials capacity in Africa. EDCTP 
projects include studies of both artemisinin based combination therapies (ACTs) 
and non ACTs, aiming at establishing therapies that are safe and highly 
effective in real world situations. Ongoing studies involve special patient 
groups such as infants, malnourished children, HIV/AIDS co-infected individuals 
and pregnant mothers. Additionally, EDCTP supports clinical research and 
development of candidate malaria vaccines that include MVA METRAP, AdCh63 

Among EDCTP-funded malaria projects are the following clinical trials:

As part of studies involving pregnancy associated malaria, EDCTP funds a 
project that aims to optimise the existing dose and regimen of intermittent 
preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. This treatment is to 
prevent malaria in pregnant women in areas where there is a high coverage of 
insecticide treated nets and where malaria transmission is highly seasonal. The 
study compares intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp) with intermittent 
screening and treatment of malaria (IST).

In Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique EDCTP funds a phase III/IV clinical trial to 
identify safe and efficacious ACTs that can be administered to HIV-positive 
patients who receive antiretroviral medication and in very young or 
malnourished children. Concurrently, the study aims to establish the 
appropriate age-based dosing where weight-based dosing is not feasible. This 
study started recruiting patients in August 2010.

EDCTP is also funding a phase IIIb/IV clinical study is to assess the safety 
and efficacy of repeated administration of four repeated ACTs over a two-year 
period in children and adult patients with acute uncomplicated malaria. This 
project is being carried out by the West African Network for Clinical Trials of 
Anti Malarial drugs (WANECAM). The study is expected to generate important 
safety and efficacy data that will contribute to the registration of the new 
generation ACT’s: pyronaridine-artesunate and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine.

EDCTP-funded research into the efficacy of a novel antimalaria agent, 
fosmidomycin, has started in 2010. This phase II/III clinical trial aims to 
determine the optimal therapeutic regime for administering fosmidomycin 
together with clindamycin to children suffering from acute uncomplicated 
malaria. This project is taking place in Mozambique, Benin, Gabon and Tanzania.

All these projects reflect EDCTP strategy of integrating regulatory quality 
research with investment in clinical capacity development and expanding 
research networks in sub-Saharan Africa. For more information on EDCTP malaria 
projects, see the EDCTP malaria factsheet

Daniela Pereira
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