Researchers have adapted an existing diagnostic test for malaria to predict the
dangerous complications that sometimes arise after the parasite is eradicated from
‘An existing diagnostic test for malaria predicts the dangerous complications
that sometimes arise after the parasite is eradicated from the patients' blood.’
Clinicians lack reliable methods to pinpoint which patients will experience
widespread destruction of their red blood cells following therapy with the
artemisinin artesunate - a condition called post-artesunate delayed hemolysis
Episodes of PADH have been linked with severe kidney failure, which is one reason
why the World Health Organization has noted an urgent need for a simple and reliable
test. Here, Papa Alioune Ndour and colleagues repurposed a diagnostic already in use
- the BinaxNOW malaria kit - to predict PADH with 89% sensitivity and 73%
The assay measures remnants of a malaria protein named HRP2 on red blood cells, and
was successfully validated using diluted blood samples from 95 Bangladeshi patients
and 53 French travelers, all of whom received artesunate.
Notably, a separate cohort of 49 patients that were administered quinine (which is
not associated with post-treatment anemia) did not have persistently high HRP2
levels. The authors say the accuracy of the test must be confirmed in larger-scale
prospective studies, and may be preferable to current recommendations for mandatory
28-day monitoring of all malaria patients - to help high-risk patients achieve
better post-treatment outcomes.
Facts on Malaria
- Over 40% of the world's population is at the risk of malaria, according to the WHO. There were almost 200 million recorded malaria cases in 2013, with around 584,000 of them resulting in fatalities.
- In 2015, there were 212 million cases of malaria with a fall in global incidence by 21% between 2010 - 2015.
- There was a 29% decrease in global malaria mortality rates between 2010 and 2015.
- Malaria remains a major killer of under-fives, claiming the life of 1 child every 2 minutes.
- Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are highly effective against P. falciparum, the most prevalent and lethal malaria parasite affecting humans.
- Papa Alioune Ndour et al., Measuring the Plasmodium
falciparum HRP2 protein in blood from artesunate-treated malaria patients predicts
post-artesunate delayed hemolysis, Science Translational Medicine (2017).