More data needed on schistosomiasis treatment for children

TDR news item
28 January 2014

A new study calls for more data on the most commonly used form of treatment for schistosomiasis, praziquantel. The paper published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy reviews the limited number of studies on the chemistry, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of praziquantel, in an effort to begin to identify how to improve the treatment for children.

Praziquantel has been the mainstay of schistosomiasis control since 1984 and widely distributed through preventive chemotherapy programmes to school-aged children or at-risk populations since 2006. There is only one form of the medication that tastes bitter and has to be delivered in large tablets, which are difficult for children, especially preschool-aged children, to take. Consequently, researchers are trying to find other forms that improve the acceptability to increase the number of children who can take this critical medication, and in the right dose.

The study is a first step in the process of gaining basic knowledge on the pharmacology of this drug, and it calls for further attention to this area. It was written by TDR’s unit leader on intervention and implementation research, Piero Olliaro, with colleagues from PharmaLex GmbH and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Schistosomiasis is a chronic, parasitic disease caused by blood flukes (trematode worms) of the genus Schistosoma. It has two forms - intestinal schistosomiasis which can result in liver enlargement, and urogenital schistosomiasis, which can lead to fibrosis of the bladder and ureter, and kidney damage in advanced cases.

For more information, contact:

Piero Olliaro (olliarop@who.int)

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