A new anti-malaria drug has the potential to kill mosquitoes, unlike existing drugs that target the parasite. A research team at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) demonstrates the potential impact of ivermectin.
The team, working in partnership with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other colleagues from around the world, carried out a randomized controlled trial in western Kenya. The results of the study show that adding high doses of ivermectin, an endectocide class of drug, to the antimalarial dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) had a major and prolonged effect on mosquito mortality.
Dr. Menno Smit (LSTM) is first author on the paper. He said: "This is an entirely novel type of intervention which could be added to community-wide campaigns with antimalarial drugs, such as mass drug administration and seasonal malaria chemoprevention, to kill both mosquitoes and parasites. We worked with colleagues from Imperial College London, who used our results in a mathematical model, which predicts that the addition of high dose ivermectin increases the impact on malaria reduction by potentially as much as 61 percent."
"This first evaluation of the impact of high dose ivermectin on mosquito mortality is highly encouraging and requires further evaluation in larger scale trials that target both malaria parasites and the mosquitoes, as the world pushes towards malaria elimination", explained LSTM's Professor Feiko ter Kuile, senior author of the paper. "The drug's impact on mosquito mortality, long effect-duration, and tolerability make it a promising new tool in malaria control. It has a different mode of action from other insecticides, meaning that it could also be effective against mosquitoes that rest and feed outdoors, as well as mosquitoes that are resistant to the standard insecticides used on bed nets and indoor spraying."
Preliminary results of the study were presented at a World Health Organization (WHO) evidence review group meeting, while UNITAID has issued a call for further research into the use of endectocide class drugs, of which ivermectin is currently the only one registered for human use, as new vector control tools in the fight against malaria and other mosquito borne disease.
The research is published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.