Researchers at Paris Descartes University have discovered a way to predict which malaria patients will suffer from a serious — often fatal — side-effect of the usual treatment. And the cost will be relatively low, because the researchers found they could get the needed results by repurposing an existing test.
Most patients recover from malaria after taking artemisinin artesunate, but a small number develop post-artesunate delayed haemolysis (PADH) within a month of treatment. PADH is a form of anemia that can lead to kidney failure and death.
Until now, clinicians were unable to pinpoint who might develop PADH. But in their test, the researchers found they could use an existing malaria kit called BinaxNOW with significantly accurate results in detecting PADH.
Pierre Buffet, head of the RBC (red blood cell) research team at the faculty of medicine, Paris Descartes University, reported that the modified diagnostic test predicted PADH with 89% sensitivity and 73% specificity.
In 2015, there were roughly 212 million malaria cases and an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
Instead of monitoring the malaria patients for 28-days to see if the side effects develop, Buffet says that the new plan is to use the test three days after the start of treatment.
“Our first step is to perform a multisite study to confirm predictive thresholds and impact, predominantly in African children,” Buffet told SciDev.net.