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author:("warning, Joel")
1.  Contrasting benefits of different artemisinin combination therapies as first-line malaria treatments using model-based cost-effectiveness analysis 
Nature Communications  2014;5:5606.
There are currently several recommended drug regimens for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Africa. Each has different properties that determine its impact on disease burden. Two major antimalarial policy options are artemether–lumefantrine (AL) and dihydroartemisinin–piperaquine (DHA–PQP). Clinical trial data show that DHA–PQP provides longer protection against reinfection, while AL is better at reducing patient infectiousness. Here we incorporate pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic factors, transmission-reducing effects and cost into a mathematical model and simulate malaria transmission and treatment in Africa, using geographically explicit data on transmission intensity and seasonality, population density, treatment access and outpatient costs. DHA–PQP has a modestly higher estimated impact than AL in 64% of the population at risk. Given current higher cost estimates for DHA–PQP, there is a slightly greater cost per case averted, except in areas with high, seasonally varying transmission where the impact is particularly large. We find that a locally optimized treatment policy can be highly cost effective for reducing clinical malaria burden.
Several drug combinations with different properties are used for malaria treatment. Here, Okell et al. use a mathematical model to simulate malaria transmission and treatment with two drug combinations in Africa, and find that locally optimized policies can be highly cost effective for reducing malaria burden.
PMCID: PMC4263185  PMID: 25425081
2.  Open-Label Crossover Study of Primaquine and Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine Pharmacokinetics in Healthy Adult Thai Subjects 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2014;58(12):7340-7346.
Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is an artemisinin-based combination treatment (ACT) recommended by the WHO for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, and it is being used increasingly for resistant vivax malaria where combination with primaquine is required for radical cure. The WHO recently reinforced its recommendations to add a single dose of primaquine to ACTs to reduce P. falciparum transmission in low-transmission settings. The pharmacokinetics of primaquine and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine were evaluated in 16 healthy Thai adult volunteers in a randomized crossover study. Volunteers were randomized to two groups of three sequential hospital admissions to receive 30 mg (base) primaquine, 3 tablets of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (120/960 mg), and the drugs together at the same doses. Blood sampling was performed over 3 days following primaquine and 36 days following dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine dosing. Pharmacokinetic assessment was done with a noncompartmental approach. The drugs were well tolerated. There were no statistically significant differences in dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine pharmacokinetics with or without primaquine. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine coadministration significantly increased plasma primaquine levels; geometric mean ratios (90% confidence interval [CI]) of primaquine combined versus primaquine alone for maximum concentration (Cmax), area under the concentration-time curve from 0 h to the end of the study (AUC0–last), and area under the concentration-time curve from 0 h to infinity (AUC0–∞) were 148% (117 to 187%), 129% (103 to 163%), and 128% (102 to 161%), respectively. This interaction is similar to that described recently with chloroquine and may result in an enhanced radical curative effect. (This study has been registered at under registration no. NCT01525511.)
PMCID: PMC4249579  PMID: 25267661
3.  Efficacy and Day 7 Plasma Piperaquine Concentrations in African Children Treated for Uncomplicated Malaria with Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e103200.
One promising new Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) is dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PQ). However, the pharmacokinetics of piperaquine and the relationship between drug levels and clinical efficacy are incompletely characterized, particularly in children.
We performed a single-arm open-label trial in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. A total of 379 participants aged 6 months or more with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were enrolled. Each participant received daily dose of DHA-PQ for three days and followed for 42 days. Parasitological efficacy was analyzed, considering rates of recrudescence and overall recurrence. PK was an exploratory endpoint and a priori, no sample size had been determined. Day 7 capillary and venous plasma concentrations of piperaquine were measured in children aged 2–10 years.
Of the 379 participants, 365 (96.3%) completed 42 days of follow-up. The median daily dose of PQ was 18.5 mg/kg [6.5–24]. Treatment with DHA-PQ was well tolerated with fever and parasitemia resolution within 48 hours in nearly all children. Recurrent malaria within 42 days of follow-up occurred in 31.3% (10/34) of children less than 2 years old, 16.0% (16/106) of those aged 2–5 years, 9.4% (15/160) of those aged 5–10 years, and none (0/68) of those over 10 years old. After genotyping, 3 of 41 recurrent episodes were recrudescence. An exploratory analysis shows that children with successful treatment outcomes had significantly higher median plasma concentrations of PQ compared to those with recurrent malaria within 42 days after therapy, considering either capillary samples (68 ng/ml [50–85] compared to 48 ng/ml [36–55], p<0.001) or venous samples (42 ng/ml [29–59] compared to 25 ng/ml [19–44], p<0.001).
DHA-PQ was effective for uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria treatment and offers an alternative to other ACTs. Recurrent malaria was mainly due to new infections after treatment and was correlated with low day 7 PQ concentration in the youngest patients.
Trial Registration ISRCTN59761234
PMCID: PMC4136730  PMID: 25133389
4.  Statistical Power Calculations for Mixed Pharmacokinetic Study Designs Using a Population Approach 
The AAPS Journal  2014;16(5):1110-1118.
Simultaneous modelling of dense and sparse pharmacokinetic data is possible with a population approach. To determine the number of individuals required to detect the effect of a covariate, simulation-based power calculation methodologies can be employed. The Monte Carlo Mapped Power method (a simulation-based power calculation methodology using the likelihood ratio test) was extended in the current study to perform sample size calculations for mixed pharmacokinetic studies (i.e. both sparse and dense data collection). A workflow guiding an easy and straightforward pharmacokinetic study design, considering also the cost-effectiveness of alternative study designs, was used in this analysis. Initially, data were simulated for a hypothetical drug and then for the anti-malarial drug, dihydroartemisinin. Two datasets (sampling design A: dense; sampling design B: sparse) were simulated using a pharmacokinetic model that included a binary covariate effect and subsequently re-estimated using (1) the same model and (2) a model not including the covariate effect in NONMEM 7.2. Power calculations were performed for varying numbers of patients with sampling designs A and B. Study designs with statistical power >80% were selected and further evaluated for cost-effectiveness. The simulation studies of the hypothetical drug and the anti-malarial drug dihydroartemisinin demonstrated that the simulation-based power calculation methodology, based on the Monte Carlo Mapped Power method, can be utilised to evaluate and determine the sample size of mixed (part sparsely and part densely sampled) study designs. The developed method can contribute to the design of robust and efficient pharmacokinetic studies.
PMCID: PMC4147042  PMID: 25011414
mixed pharmacokinetic study designs; Monte Carlo Mapped Power; optimal pharmacokinetic study design; statistical power calculations
5.  Benefits of a Pharmacology Antimalarial Reference Standard and Proficiency Testing Program Provided by the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) 
Comprehensive assessment of antimalarial drug resistance should include measurements of antimalarial blood or plasma concentrations in clinical trials and in individual assessments of treatment failure so that true resistance can be differentiated from inadequate drug exposure. Pharmacometric modeling is necessary to assess pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic relationships in different populations to optimize dosing. To accomplish both effectively and to allow comparison of data from different laboratories, it is essential that drug concentration measurement is accurate. Proficiency testing (PT) of laboratory procedures is necessary for verification of assay results. Within the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN), the goal of the quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) program is to facilitate and sustain high-quality antimalarial assays. The QA/QC program consists of an international PT program for pharmacology laboratories and a reference material (RM) program for the provision of antimalarial drug standards, metabolites, and internal standards for laboratory use. The RM program currently distributes accurately weighed quantities of antimalarial drug standards, metabolites, and internal standards to 44 pharmacology, in vitro, and drug quality testing laboratories. The pharmacology PT program has sent samples to eight laboratories in four rounds of testing. WWARN technical experts have provided advice for correcting identified problems to improve performance of subsequent analysis and ultimately improved the quality of data. Many participants have demonstrated substantial improvements over subsequent rounds of PT. The WWARN QA/QC program has improved the quality and value of antimalarial drug measurement in laboratories globally. It is a model that has potential to be applied to strengthening laboratories more widely and improving the therapeutics of other infectious diseases.
PMCID: PMC4068537  PMID: 24777099
6.  Population pharmacokinetics of quinine in pregnant women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Uganda 
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy  2014;69(11):3033-3040.
Oral quinine is used for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria during pregnancy, but few pharmacokinetic data are available for this population. Previous studies have reported a substantial effect of malaria on the pharmacokinetics of quinine resulting from increased α-1-acid glycoprotein levels and decreased cytochrome P450 3A4 activity. The aim of this study was to investigate the pharmacokinetic properties of oral quinine in pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria in Uganda using a population approach.
Data from 22 women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria were analysed. Patients received quinine sulphate (10 mg of salt/kg) three times daily (0, 8 and 16 h) for 7 days. Plasma samples were collected daily and at frequent intervals after the first and last doses. A population pharmacokinetic model for quinine was developed accounting for different disposition, absorption, error and covariate models.
Parasitaemia, as a time-varying covariate affecting relative bioavailability, and body temperature on admission as a covariate on elimination clearance, explained the higher exposure to quinine during acute malaria compared with the convalescent phase. Neither the estimated gestational age nor the trimester influenced the pharmacokinetic properties of quinine significantly.
A population model was developed that adequately characterized quinine pharmacokinetics in pregnant Ugandan women with acute malaria. Quinine exposure was lower than previously reported in patients who were not pregnant. The measurement of free quinine concentration will be necessary to determine the therapeutic relevance of these observations.
PMCID: PMC4195470  PMID: 24970740
population models; P. falciparum; NONMEM
7.  Pharmacokinetic Interactions between Primaquine and Chloroquine 
Chloroquine combined with primaquine has been the standard radical curative regimen for Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale malaria for over half a century. In an open-label crossover pharmacokinetic study, 16 healthy volunteers (4 males and 12 females) aged 20 to 47 years were randomized into two groups of three sequential hospital admissions to receive a single oral dose of 30 mg (base) primaquine, 600 mg (base) chloroquine, and the two drugs together. The coadministration of the two drugs did not affect chloroquine or desethylchloroquine pharmacokinetics but increased plasma primaquine concentrations significantly (P ≤ 0.005); the geometric mean (90% confidence interval [CI]) increases were 63% (47 to 81%) in maximum concentration and 24% (13 to 35%) in total exposure. There were also corresponding increases in plasma carboxyprimaquine concentrations (P ≤ 0.020). There were no significant electrocardiographic changes following primaquine administration, but there was slight corrected QT (QTc) (Fridericia) interval lengthening following chloroquine administration (median [range] = 6.32 [−1.45 to 12.3] ms; P < 0.001), which was not affected by the addition of primaquine (5.58 [1.74 to 11.4] ms; P = 0.642). This pharmacokinetic interaction may explain previous observations of synergy in preventing P. vivax relapse. This trial was registered at under reference number NCT01218932.
PMCID: PMC4068454  PMID: 24687509
8.  Population Pharmacokinetic Assessment of the Effect of Food on Piperaquine Bioavailability in Patients with Uncomplicated Malaria 
Previously published literature reports various impacts of food on the oral bioavailability of piperaquine. The aim of this study was to use a population modeling approach to investigate the impact of concomitant intake of a small amount of food on piperaquine pharmacokinetics. This was an open, randomized comparison of piperaquine pharmacokinetics when administered as a fixed oral formulation once daily for 3 days with (n = 15) and without (n = 15) concomitant food to patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Thailand. Nonlinear mixed-effects modeling was used to characterize the pharmacokinetics of piperaquine and the influence of concomitant food intake. A modified Monte Carlo mapped power approach was applied to evaluate the relationship between statistical power and various degrees of covariate effect sizes of the given study design. Piperaquine population pharmacokinetics were described well in fasting and fed patients by a three-compartment distribution model with flexible absorption. The final model showed a 25% increase in relative bioavailability per dose occasion during recovery from malaria but demonstrated no clinical impact of concomitant intake of a low-fat meal. Body weight and age were both significant covariates in the final model. The novel power approach concluded that the study was adequately powered to detect a food effect of at least 35%. This modified Monte Carlo mapped power approach may be a useful tool for evaluating the power to detect true covariate effects in mixed-effects modeling and a given study design. A small amount of food does not affect piperaquine absorption significantly in acute malaria.
PMCID: PMC4023753  PMID: 24449770
9.  Pharmacokinetics of Orally Administered Oseltamivir in Healthy Obese and Nonobese Thai Subjects 
Oseltamivir is the most widely used anti-influenza drug. In the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, in which the influenza viruses were oseltamivir sensitive, obesity was identified as a risk factor for severe disease and unfavorable outcomes. The aim of this study was to investigate the pharmacokinetic properties of oseltamivir and its active metabolite, oseltamivir carboxylate, in obese and nonobese healthy subjects. A single-dose, randomized, two-sequence crossover study was conducted in 12 obese and 12 nonobese healthy Thai volunteers. Each volunteer was given 75 mg and 150 mg oseltamivir orally with an intervening washout period of more than 3 days. The pharmacokinetic properties of oseltamivir and oseltamivir carboxylate were evaluated using a noncompartmental approach. The median (range) body mass indexes (BMIs) for obese subjects were 33.8 kg/m2 (30.8 to 43.2) and 22.2 (18.8 to 24.2) for nonobese subjects. The pharmacokinetic parameters of oseltamivir carboxylate, the active metabolite of oseltamivir, were not significantly different between obese and nonobese subjects for both 75-mg and 150-mg doses. Both doses were well tolerated. Despite the lower dose per kilogram body weight in obese subjects, there was no significant difference in the exposure of oseltamivir carboxylate between the obese and nonobese groups. Standard dosing is appropriate for obese subjects. (The study was registered at under registration no. NCT 01049763.)
PMCID: PMC3957867  PMID: 24366750
10.  Combination therapy with amantadine, oseltamivir and ribavirin for influenza A infection: safety and pharmacokinetics 
Antiviral therapy  2012;18(3):377-386.
Antiviral resistance among influenza A viruses is associated with high morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised hosts. However, treatment strategies for drug-resistant influenza A are not established. A triple-combination antiviral drug (TCAD) regimen consisting of amantadine (AMT), oseltamivir (OSL) and ribavirin (RBV) demonstrated good efficacy in an animal model.
We first analysed the pharmacokinetics (PKs) of TCAD therapy in healthy volunteers. We then performed a pilot study of TCAD therapy in patients undergoing chemotherapy or haematopoietic cell transplantation. AMT (75 mg), OSL (50 mg) and RBV (200 mg) were administered three times a day for 10 days. The safety and PKs of TCAD therapy were monitored.
The PKs of TCAD therapy in healthy volunteers was shown to be similar to the PKs of each drug individually from a single dose. In the pilot study, six immunocompromised patients received TCAD therapy and one patient received OSL monotherapy. All but one patient completed 10 days of TCAD therapy without side effects; one patient receiving TCAD was withdrawn from the study because of respiratory failure and ultimately recovered. Viral load was decreased after TCAD therapy, despite the presence of either AMT- or OSL-resistant virus in two cases. One patient with 2009 influenza A/H1N1 receiving OSL monotherapy developed confirmed OSL resistance during treatment.
TCAD therapy had similar PKs to each individual antiviral during monotherapy following a single dose and can be administered safely in immunocompromised patients.
PMCID: PMC3912210  PMID: 23264438
11.  Liquid chromatographic–mass spectrometric method for simultaneous determination of small organic acids potentially contributing to acidosis in severe malaria☆ 
•Acidosis is an important contributor to mortality in patients with severe malaria.•A novel LC–MS method for simultaneous determination of 8 potential small organic acids contributing to acidosis.•Anion exchange SPE coupled with HILIC and ion trap LC–MS was utilized for separation and detection.•This new method demonstrated clinical applicability in plasma and urine of severe malaria patient.
Acidosis is an important cause of mortality in severe falciparum malaria. Lactic acid is a major contributor to metabolic acidosis, but accounts for only one-quarter of the strong anion gap. Other unidentified organic acids have an independent strong prognostic significance for a fatal outcome. In this study, a simultaneous bio-analytical method for qualitative and quantitative assessment in plasma and urine of eight small organic acids potentially contributing to acidosis in severe malaria was developed and validated. High-throughput strong anion exchange solid-phase extraction in a 96-well plate format was used for sample preparation. Hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC) coupled to negative mass spectroscopy was utilized for separation and detection. Eight possible small organic acids; l-lactic acid (LA), α-hydroxybutyric acid (aHBA), β-hydroxybutyric acid (bHBA), p-hydroxyphenyllactic acid (pHPLA), malonic acid (MA), methylmalonic acid (MMA), ethylmalonic acid (EMA) and α-ketoglutaric acid (aKGA) were analyzed simultaneously using a ZIC-HILIC column with an isocratic elution containing acetonitrile and ammonium acetate buffer. This method was validated according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines with additional validation procedures for endogenous substances. Accuracy for all eight acids ranged from 93.1% to 104.0%, and the within-day and between-day precisions (i.e. relative standard deviations) were lower than 5.5% at all tested concentrations. The calibration ranges were: 2.5–2500 μg/mL for LA, 0.125–125 μg/mL for aHBA, 7.5–375 μg/mL for bHBA, 0.1–100 μg/mL for pHPLA, 1–1000 μg/mL for MA, 0.25–250 μg/mL for MMA, 0.25–100 μg/mL for EMA, and 30–1500 μg/mL for aKGA. Clinical applicability was demonstrated by analyzing plasma and urine samples from five patients with severe falciparum malaria; five acids had increased concentrations in plasma (range LA = 177–1169 μg/mL, aHBA = 4.70–38.4 μg/mL, bHBA = 7.70–38.0 μg/mL, pHPLA = 0.900–4.30 μg/mL and aKGA = 30.2–32.0) and seven in urine samples (range LA = 11.2–513 μg/mL, aHBA = 1.50–69.5 μg/mL, bHBA = 8.10–111 μg/mL, pHPLA = 4.30–27.7 μg/mL, MMA = 0.300–13.3 μg/mL, EMA = 0.300–48.1 μg/mL and aKGA = 30.4–107 μg/mL). In conclusion, a novel bioanalytical method was developed and validated which allows for simultaneous quantification of eight small organic acids in plasma and urine. This new method may be a useful tool for the assessment of acidosis in patients with severe malaria, and other conditions complicated by acidosis.
PMCID: PMC3827507  PMID: 24200840
Acidosis; Severe malaria; Liquid chromatography; Mass spectrometry; Bio-analysis; Unidentified acids
12.  The status of pharmacometrics in pregnancy: highlights from the 3rd American conference on pharmacometrics 
Physiological changes during pregnancy may alter drug pharmacokinetics. Therefore, mechanistic understanding of these changes and, ultimately, clinical studies in pregnant women are necessary to determine if and how dosing regimens should be adjusted. Because of the typically limited number of patients who can be recruited in this patient group, efficient design and analysis of these studies is of special relevance. This paper is a summary of a conference session organized at the American Conference of Pharmacometrics in April 2011, around the topic of applying pharmacometric methodology to this important problem. The discussion included both design and analysis of clinical studies during pregnancy and in silico predictions. An overview of different pharmacometric methods relevant to this subject was given. The impact of pharmacometrics was illustrated using a range of case examples of studies around pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3522806  PMID: 22452385
maternal-fetal medicine; modelling and simulation; pharmacokinetics; pharmacometrics; pregnancy
13.  A robust design for identification of the Parasite Clearance Estimator 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:410.
Anti-malarial efficacy needs to be monitored continually to ensure optimal dosing in the face of emerging anti-malarial drug resistance. The efficacy of artemisinin based combination therapies (ACT) is assessed by repeated measurements of parasite density in the blood of patients following treatment. Parasite density is measured from a capillary or venous blood sample, but this can be logistically and ethically challenging if multiple samples are required within a short time period. The aim of this work was to apply optimal design theory to derive clinically feasible blood sampling schedules from which parasite clearance could be defined using the Parasite Clearance Estimator (PCE), a recently developed tool to identify and quantify artemisinin resistance.
Robust T-optimal design methodology was applied to offer a sampling schedule that allows for discrimination across models that best describe an individual patient’s parasite-time profile. The design was based on typical parasite-time profiles derived from the literature combined with key sampling constraints of no more than six samples per patient within 48 hours of initial treatment. The design was evaluated with a simulation-estimation procedure that implemented the PCE.
The optimal sampling times (sampling windows) were: 0 (0 to 1.1), 5.8 (4.0 to 6.0), 9.9 (8.4 to 11.5), 24.8 (24.0 to 24.9), 36.3 (34.8 to 37.2) and 48 (47.3, 48.0) hours post initial treatment. The simulation-estimation procedure showed that the design supported identification of the appropriate method by the PCE to determine an individual’s parasite clearance rate constant (the main output calculation from the PCE).
The proposed sampling design requires six samples per patient within the first 48 hours. The derived design requires validation in a real world setting, but should be considered for future studies that intend to employ the PCE.
PMCID: PMC3831256  PMID: 24225256
14.  External Validation of the Bilirubin–Atazanavir Nomogram for Assessment of Atazanavir Plasma Exposure in HIV-1-Infected Patients 
The AAPS journal  2012;15(2):308-315.
Atazanavir increases plasma bilirubin levels in a concentration-dependent manner. Due to less costly and readily available assays, bilirubin has been proposed as a marker of atazanavir exposure. In this work, a previously developed nomogram for detection of suboptimal atazanavir exposure is validated against external patient populations. The bilirubin nomogram was validated against 311 matching bilirubin and atazanavir samples from 166 HIV-1-infected Norwegian, French, and Italian patients on a ritonavir-boosted regimen. In addition, the nomogram was evaluated in 56 Italian patients on an unboosted regimen. The predictive properties of the nomogram were validated against observed atazanavir plasma concentrations. The use of the nomogram to detect non-adherence was also investigated by simulation. The bilirubin nomogram predicted suboptimal exposure in the patient populations on a ritonavir-boosted regimen with a negative predictive value of 97% (95% CI 95–100). The bilirubin nomogram and monitoring of atazanavir concentrations had similar predictive properties for detecting non-adherence based on simulations. Although both methods performed adequately during a period of non-adherence, they had lower predictive power to detect past non-adherence episodes. Using the bilirubin nomogram for detection of suboptimal atazanavir exposure in patients on a ritonavir-boosted regimen is a rapid and cost-effective alternative to routine measurements of the actual atazanavir exposure in plasma. Its application may be useful in clinical settings if atazanavir concentrations are not available.
PMCID: PMC3618856  PMID: 23224752
atazanavir; bilirubin; nomogram
15.  Pharmacokinetic Properties of Artemether, Dihydroartemisinin, Lumefantrine, and Quinine in Pregnant Women with Uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum Malaria in Uganda 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2013;57(10):5096-5103.
Pregnancy alters the pharmacokinetic properties of many drugs used in the treatment of malaria, usually resulting in lower drug exposures. This increases the risks of treatment failure, adverse outcomes for the fetus, and the development of resistance. The pharmacokinetic properties of artemether and its principal metabolite dihydroartemisinin (n = 21), quinine (n = 21), and lumefantrine (n = 26) in pregnant Ugandan women were studied. Lumefantrine pharmacokinetics in a nonpregnant control group (n = 17) were also studied. Frequently sampled patient data were evaluated with noncompartmental analysis. No significant correlation was observed between estimated gestational age and artemether, dihydroartemisinin, lumefantrine, or quinine exposures. Artemether/dihydroartemisinin and quinine exposures were generally low in these pregnant women compared to values reported previously for nonpregnant patients. Median day 7 lumefantrine concentrations were 488 (range, 30.7 to 3,550) ng/ml in pregnant women compared to 720 (339 to 2,150) ng/ml in nonpregnant women (P = 0.128). There was no statistical difference in total lumefantrine exposure or maximum concentration. More studies with appropriate control groups in larger series are needed to characterize the degree to which pregnant women are underdosed with current antimalarial dosing regimens.
PMCID: PMC3811434  PMID: 23917320
16.  Randomized Controlled Trial of Levamisole Hydrochloride as Adjunctive Therapy in Severe Falciparum Malaria With High Parasitemia 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;209(1):120-129.
Background. Cytoadherence and sequestration of erythrocytes containing mature stages of Plasmodium falciparum are central to the pathogenesis of severe malaria. The oral anthelminthic drug levamisole inhibits cytoadherence in vitro and reduces sequestration of late-stage parasites in uncomplicated falciparum malaria treated with quinine.
Methods. Fifty-six adult patients with severe malaria and high parasitemia admitted to a referral hospital in Bangladesh were randomized to receive a single dose of levamisole hydrochloride (150 mg) or no adjuvant to antimalarial treatment with intravenous artesunate.
Results. Circulating late-stage parasites measured as the median area under the parasite clearance curves were 2150 (interquartile range [IQR], 0–28 025) parasites/µL × hour in patients treated with levamisole and 5489 (IQR, 192–25 848) parasites/µL × hour in controls (P = .25). The “sequestration ratios” at 6 and 12 hours for all parasite stages and changes in microvascular blood flow did not differ between treatment groups (all P > .40). The median time to normalization of plasma lactate (<2 mmol/L) was 24 (IQR, 12–30) hours with levamisole vs 28 (IQR, 12–36) hours without levamisole (P = .15).
Conclusions. There was no benefit of a single-dose of levamisole hydrochloride as adjuvant to intravenous artesunate in the treatment of adults with severe falciparum malaria. Rapid parasite killing by intravenous artesunate might obscure the effects of levamisole.
PMCID: PMC3864382  PMID: 23943850
malaria; severe; falciparum; sequestration; artesunate; levamisole
17.  Comparison of Oseltamivir and Oseltamivir Carboxylate Concentrations in Venous Plasma, Venous Blood, and Capillary Blood in Healthy Volunteers 
Oseltamivir and oseltamivir carboxylate concentrations were measured in venous plasma, venous blood, and capillary blood taken simultaneously from 24 healthy volunteers. Median (range) venous-blood-to-plasma ratios were 1.42 (0.920 to 1.97) for oseltamivir and 0.673 (0.564 to 0.814) for oseltamivir carboxylate. Capillary blood/venous plasma ratios were 1.32 (0.737 to 3.16) for oseltamivir and 0.685 (0.502 to 1.34) for oseltamivir carboxylate. Oseltamivir concentrations in venous and capillary blood were similar. Oseltamivir carboxylate showed a time-dependent distribution between venous and capillary blood.
PMCID: PMC3716162  PMID: 23507284
18.  Genetic Analysis of Primaquine Tolerance in a Patient with Relapsing Vivax Malaria 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2013;19(5):802-805.
Patients with Plasmodium vivax malaria are treated with primaquine to prevent relapse infections. We report primaquine failure in a patient with 3 relapses without any possibility of re-infection. Using whole genome sequencing of the relapsing parasite isolates, we identified single nucleotide variants as candidate molecular markers of resistance.
PMCID: PMC3647516  PMID: 23648098
malaria; Plasmodium vivax; relapse; primaquine; genetics; malaria; parasites
19.  Reduced Susceptibility of Plasmodium falciparum to Artesunate in Southern Myanmar 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57689.
Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinins, the first line treatment for malaria worldwide, has been reported in western Cambodia. Resistance is characterized by significantly delayed clearance of parasites following artemisinin treatment. Artemisinin resistance has not previously been reported in Myanmar, which has the highest falciparum malaria burden among Southeast Asian countries.
A non-randomized, single-arm, open-label clinical trial of artesunate monotherapy (4 mg/kg daily for seven days) was conducted in adults with acute blood-smear positive P. falciparum malaria in Kawthaung, southern Myanmar. Parasite density was measured every 12 hours until two consecutive negative smears were obtained. Participants were followed weekly at the study clinic for three additional weeks. Co-primary endpoints included parasite clearance time (the time required for complete clearance of initial parasitemia), parasite clearance half-life (the time required for parasitemia to decrease by 50% based on the linear portion of the parasite clearance slope), and detectable parasitemia 72 hours after commencement of artesunate treatment. Drug pharmacokinetics were measured to rule out delayed clearance due to suboptimal drug levels.
The median (range) parasite clearance half-life and time were 4.8 (2.1–9.7) and 60 (24–96) hours, respectively. The frequency distributions of parasite clearance half-life and time were bimodal, with very slow parasite clearance characteristic of the slowest-clearing Cambodian parasites (half-life longer than 6.2 hours) in approximately 1/3 of infections. Fourteen of 52 participants (26.9%) had a measurable parasitemia 72 hours after initiating artesunate treatment. Parasite clearance was not associated with drug pharmacokinetics.
A subset of P. falciparum infections in southern Myanmar displayed markedly delayed clearance following artemisinin treatment, suggesting either emergence of artemisinin resistance in southern Myanmar or spread to this location from its site of origin in western Cambodia. Resistance containment efforts are underway in Myanmar.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000896077
PMCID: PMC3592920  PMID: 23520478
20.  Artesunate/dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics in acute falciparum malaria in pregnancy: absorption, bioavailability, disposition and disease effects 
To determine if reported lower plasma concentrations of artemisinin derivatives for malaria in pregnancy result from reduced oral bioavailability, expanded volume of distribution or increased clearance.
In a sequentially assigned crossover treatment study, pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria received i.v. artesunate (i.v. ARS) (4 mg kg−1) on the first day and oral ARS (4 mg kg−1) on the second, or, oral on the first and i.v. on the second, in both groups followed by oral ARS (4 mg kg−1 day−1) for 5 days. Plasma concentrations of ARS and dihyroartemisinin (DHA) were measured by liquid chromatography-mass-spectrometry on days 0, 1, 2 and 6. Controls were the same women restudied when healthy (3 months post partum).
I.v. ARS administration resulted in similar ARS and DHA pharmacokinetics in pregnant women with malaria (n = 20) and in controls (n = 14). Oral administration resulted in higher total drug exposure in pregnancy [AUC (95% CI) in (ng ml−1 h)/(mg kg−1)] of 55.1 (30.1, 100.0) vs. 26.5 (12.2, 54.3) for ARS, P = 0.002 and 673 (386, 1130) vs. 523 (351, 724) for DHA, P = 0.007. The corresponding median absolute oral bioavailability (F%) was 21.7 (12.6, 75.1) vs. 9.9 (6.0, 36.81) for ARS (P = 0.046) and 77.0 (42.2, 129) vs. 72.7 (42.0, 87.7) for DHA, P = 0.033. Total DHA exposure was lower at day 6 in pregnant women with malaria (P < 0.001) compared with day 0 or 1, but not in the controls (P = 0.084).
This study demonstrates the effects of malaria on oral ARS drug disposition are greater than those of pregnancy. This probably results from a disease related reduction in first pass metabolism. The data are reassuring regarding current dosing recommendations.
PMCID: PMC3370352  PMID: 21950338
artesunate; dihyroartemisinin; malaria; pharmacokinetics; post partum; pregnancy
21.  Population Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Properties of Intramuscular Quinine in Tanzanian Children with Severe Falciparum Malaria 
Although artesunate is clearly superior, parenteral quinine is still used widely for the treatment of severe malaria. A loading-dose regimen has been recommended for 30 years but is still often not used. A population pharmacokinetic study was conducted with 75 Tanzanian children aged 4 months to 8 years with severe malaria who received quinine intramuscularly; 69 patients received a loading dose of 20 mg quinine dihydrochloride (salt)/kg of body weight. Twenty-one patients had plasma quinine concentrations detectable at baseline. A zero-order absorption model with one-compartment disposition pharmacokinetics described the data adequately. Body weight was the only significant covariate and was implemented as an allometric function on clearance and volume parameters. Population pharmacokinetic parameter estimates (and percent relative standard errors [%RSE]) of elimination clearance, central volume of distribution, and duration of zero-order absorption were 0.977 liters/h (6.50%), 16.7 liters (6.39%), and 1.42 h (21.5%), respectively, for a typical patient weighing 11 kg. Quinine exposure was reduced at lower body weights after standard weight-based dosing; there was 18% less exposure over 24 h in patients weighing 5 kg than in those weighing 25 kg. Maximum plasma concentrations after the loading dose were unaffected by body weight. There was no evidence of dose-related drug toxicity with the loading dosing regimen. Intramuscular quinine is rapidly and reliably absorbed in children with severe falciparum malaria. Based on these pharmacokinetic data, a loading dose of 20 mg salt/kg is recommended, provided that no loading dose was administered within 24 h and no routine dose was administered within 12 h of admission. (This study has been registered with Current Controlled Trials under registration number ISRCTN 50258054.)
PMCID: PMC3553700  PMID: 23183442
22.  External Validation of the Bilirubin–Atazanavir Nomogram for Assessment of Atazanavir Plasma Exposure in HIV-1-Infected Patients 
The AAPS Journal  2012;15(2):308-315.
Atazanavir increases plasma bilirubin levels in a concentration-dependent manner. Due to less costly and readily available assays, bilirubin has been proposed as a marker of atazanavir exposure. In this work, a previously developed nomogram for detection of suboptimal atazanavir exposure is validated against external patient populations. The bilirubin nomogram was validated against 311 matching bilirubin and atazanavir samples from 166 HIV-1-infected Norwegian, French, and Italian patients on a ritonavir-boosted regimen. In addition, the nomogram was evaluated in 56 Italian patients on an unboosted regimen. The predictive properties of the nomogram were validated against observed atazanavir plasma concentrations. The use of the nomogram to detect non-adherence was also investigated by simulation. The bilirubin nomogram predicted suboptimal exposure in the patient populations on a ritonavir-boosted regimen with a negative predictive value of 97% (95% CI 95–100). The bilirubin nomogram and monitoring of atazanavir concentrations had similar predictive properties for detecting non-adherence based on simulations. Although both methods performed adequately during a period of non-adherence, they had lower predictive power to detect past non-adherence episodes. Using the bilirubin nomogram for detection of suboptimal atazanavir exposure in patients on a ritonavir-boosted regimen is a rapid and cost-effective alternative to routine measurements of the actual atazanavir exposure in plasma. Its application may be useful in clinical settings if atazanavir concentrations are not available.
PMCID: PMC3618856  PMID: 23224752
atazanavir; bilirubin; nomogram
23.  Plasmodium falciparum Drug Resistance Phenotype as Assessed by Patient Antimalarial Drug Levels and Its Association With pfmdr1 Polymorphisms 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;207(5):842-847.
Background. Multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum is a major threat to global malaria control. Parasites develop resistance by gradually acquiring genetic polymorphisms that decrease drug susceptibility. The aim of this study was to investigate the extent to which parasites with different genetic characteristics are able to withstand individual drug blood concentrations.
Methods. We analyzed 2 clinical trials that assessed the efficacy and effectiveness of artemether-lumefantrine. As a proof of concept, we used measured day 7 lumefantrine concentrations to estimate the concentrations at which reinfections multiplied. P. falciparum multidrug resistance gene 1 (pfmdr1) genotypes of these parasites were then correlated to drug susceptibility.
Results. Reinfecting parasites with the pfmdr1 N86/184F/D1246 haplotype were able to withstand lumefantrine blood concentrations 15-fold higher than those with the 86Y/Y184/1246Y haplotype.
Conclusions. By estimating drug concentrations, we were able to quantify the contribution of pfmdr1 single-nucleotide polymorphisms to reduced lumefantrine susceptibility. The method can be applied to all long–half-life antimalarial drugs, enables early detection of P. falciparum with reduced drug susceptibility in vivo, and represents a novel way for unveiling molecular markers of antimalarial drug resistance.
PMCID: PMC3563306  PMID: 23225895
Plasmodium falciparum; malaria; pfmdr1; lumefantrine; artemether-lumefantrine; antimalarials; pharmacokinetics; drug resistance; in vivo
24.  A population pharmacokinetic model of piperaquine in pregnant and non-pregnant women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Sudan 
Malaria Journal  2012;11:398.
Pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of developing a malaria infection and a higher risk of developing severe malaria. The pharmacokinetic properties of many anti-malarials are also altered during pregnancy, often resulting in a decreased drug exposure. Piperaquine is a promising anti-malarial partner drug used in a fixed-dose combination with dihydroartemisinin. The aim of this study was to investigate the population pharmacokinetics of piperaquine in pregnant and non-pregnant Sudanese women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria.
Symptomatic patients received a standard dose regimen of the fixed dose oral piperaquine-dihydroartemisinin combination treatment. Densely sampled plasma aliquots were collected and analysed using a previously described LC-MS/MS method. Data from 12 pregnant and 12 non-pregnant women were analysed using nonlinear mixed-effects modelling. A Monte Carlo Mapped Power (MCMP) analysis was conducted based on a previously published study to evaluate the power of detecting covariates in this relatively small study.
A three-compartment disposition model with a transit-absorption model described the observed data well. Body weight was added as an allometric function on all clearance and volume parameters. A statistically significant decrease in estimated terminal piperaquine half-life in pregnant compared with non-pregnant women was found, but there were no differences in post-hoc estimates of total piperaquine exposure. The MCMP analysis indicated a minimum of 13 pregnant and 13 non-pregnant women were required to identify pregnancy as a covariate on relevant pharmacokinetic parameters (80% power and p=0.05). Pregnancy was, therefore, evaluated as a categorical and continuous covariate (i.e. estimate gestational age) in a full covariate approach. Using this approach pregnancy was not associated with any major change in piperaquine elimination clearance. However, a trend of increasing elimination clearance with increasing gestational age could be seen.
The population pharmacokinetic properties of piperaquine were well described by a three-compartment disposition model in pregnant and non-pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria. The modelling approach showed no major difference in piperaquine exposure between the two groups and data presented here do not warrant a dose adjustment in pregnancy in this vulnerable population.
PMCID: PMC3551687  PMID: 23190801
Malaria; Piperaquine; Pregnancy; Population pharmacokinetics; Nonlinear mixed-effects modelling
25.  Effect of High-Dose or Split-Dose Artesunate on Parasite Clearance in Artemisinin-Resistant Falciparum Malaria 
New treatment strategies are needed for artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria. This randomized trial shows that neither increasing nor splitting the standard once-daily artesunate dose reverses the markedly reduced parasite clearance rate in patients with artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria.
Background. The emergence of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinins on the Cambodian and Myanmar-Thai borders poses severe threats to malaria control. We investigated whether increasing or splitting the dose of the short-half-life drug artesunate improves parasite clearance in falciparum malaria in the 2 regions.
Methods. In Pailin, western Cambodia (from 2008 to 2010), and Wang Pha, northwestern Thailand (2009–2010), patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were randomized to oral artesunate 6 mg/kg/d as a once-daily or twice-daily dose for 7 days, or artesunate 8 mg/kg/d as a once-daily or twice-daily dose for 3 days, followed by mefloquine. Parasite clearance and recrudescence for up to 63 days of follow-up were assessed.
Results. A total of 159 patients were enrolled. Overall median (interquartile range [IQR]) parasitemia half-life (half-life) was 6.03 (4.89–7.28) hours in Pailin versus 3.42 (2.20–4.85) hours in Wang Pha (P = .0001). Splitting or increasing the artesunate dose did not shorten half-life in either site. Pharmacokinetic profiles of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin were similar between sites and did not correlate with half-life. Recrudescent infections occurred in 4 of 79 patients in Pailin and 5 of 80 in Wang Pha and was not different between treatment arms (P = .68).
Conclusions. Increasing the artesunate treatment dose up to 8 mg/kg/d or splitting the dose does not improve parasite clearance in either artemisinin resistant or more sensitive infections with P. falciparum.
Clinical Trials Registration. ISRCTN15351875.
PMCID: PMC3563392  PMID: 23175556
artemisinins; drug resistance; Plasmodium falciparum; neutropenia; reticulocytopenia

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