Dr. Malla Rao
Deputy Branch Chief
Parasitology and International Programs Branch
Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) and long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets (LLINs) are important malaria control and elimination tools currently being used worldwide. The widespread introduction of ACTs has resulted in substantial gains in the fight against malaria over the past decade. However, a supply of counterfeit and substandard artemisinin-derived drugs, containing little or no active pharmaceutical ingredients, have appeared in some regions of the world. Use of these drugs inevitably results in reduced treatment efficacy and emergence of drug resistance. Currently available methods for analyzing artemisinin and its derivatives require expensive equipment and sophisticated instrumentation.
Dr. Liwang Cui, a researcher at Penn State, and his team from the Southeast Asia International Center of Excellence in Malaria Research (ICEMR) have developed a convenient, point-of-care diagnostic device for the rapid evaluation of the quality of artemisinin derivatives. Although further optimization will be required for general use, this prototype dipstick immunoassay shows great promise, as it is capable of not only qualitative but also semi-quantitative analysis of active ingredients in a range of artemisinin-based anti-malarial drugs. Identifying and removing from circulation substandard artemisinin-based drugs is crucial to containing resistance and maintaining the efficacy of ACTs in the fight against malaria.
Last Updated April 10, 2014