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An anti-malarial rescue drug for children

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

The malaria parasite can cause life-threatening infection in children, if not acted upon quickly and correctly. In an article found on one of Iceland's News websites (Fréttablaðið, in August 2021), they discuss how scientists from the University of Iceland and the University of Malawi have developed a new way to give children malaria medicine. World Health Organization (WHO) selected the drugs used in this formulation, where the WHO guidelines were fully followed to secure best practices for this part of the world.

The goal is to make the treatment easier, heat stable, and also much less expensive than the treatments currently available. More importantly, this drug will be manufactured in Malawi for the African market.

Those responsible for this development received the first price from the University of Iceland Science and Innovation Award in June 2021. Sveinbörn Gizurarson, a professor in clinical pharmacokinetics and toxicology, says that over the years, he has developed rescue drugs for different situations, including an emergency drug to terminate severe seizures. After understanding the great need in Africa, he saw an opportunity to focus on children under the age of 5, and the importance to provide a proper treatment for malaria. Current WHO guidelines say that you need to break oral tablets into tiny pieces (for example, ⅛ of a tablet) to give to the smallest children. However, when you have severe or cerebral malaria, they may lose consciousness or have difficulty keeping anything down. Therefore, it was crucial to develop a treatment that would be suitable for children in such situations, and that could be manufactured and sold in Malawi (and Sub-Saharan Africa) at affordable prices. It was also important that the instruction on how to use these medicines will be simple, since many have not received the opportunity to enter schools illiteracy is high.

Clinical trials are planned to take place in Malawi.

To read more, click here. (The article is in Icelandic).


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