Clinical and pathophysiological aspects of severe falciparum malaria

Nguyen Hoan Phu (2009). Clinical and pathophysiological aspects of severe falciparum malaria. PhD thesis The Open University.



Malaria is a major global public health problem. One-fifth of the world's population is at risk of malaria and drug resistance is spreading. Nearly five times as many cases of malaria were reported in 2000 as tuberculosis, AIDS, measles and leprosy cases combined. In the time it takes to say the word "malaria," ten children will contract the disease and begin fighting for their lives. Since the cinchona alkaloids were introduced as a specific treatment for agues 350 years ago, the treatment of severe malaria has changed little and therapy remains largely empirical. Quinine and quinidine remain the drugs of choice for severe chloroquine-resistant malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum, and with the spread of these resistant parasites, the usage of these drugs is increasing. In 1972 scientists in China discovered the antimalarial properties of a group of sesquiterpene lactone peroxides derived from the qinghao plant (Artemisia annua). The principal component, qinghaosu (artemisinin), and two derivatives - the water-soluble hemisuccinate artesunate and the oil-soluble artemether - are the most rapidly acting and potent of all antimalarial drugs. Although much research effort has been invested in optimizing antimalarial drug regimes, severe malaria remains a major cause of adult mortality in the Asiatic tropics. Despite many clinical trials reducing the mortality from severe malaria has proved difficult. Artemether has been shown to be as good as quinine but not better. This thesis set out to determine whether Artemether or Artesunate was the the better drug, how to manage acute renal failure in severe malaria, to design a severity score for malaria and assess whether there had been any change in the parasite clearance times in Viet Nam over a 18 year period. The results from a series of clinical trials and research from one hospital in Viet Nam are presented.

This thesis undertook the following studies:

1. A randomised clinical trial of artesunate vs artemether in the treatment of severe malaria in adults in Viet Nam.
2. A randomized comparison of pumped venovenous haemofiltration and peritoneal dialysis in acute renal failure associated with severe infection.
3. Fluid management in severe malaria.
4. The stage of the development of the falciparum parasites at the time of clinical presentation with severe malaria is important in predicting outcome.
5. Development of a predictive score of outcome in adults with severe falciparum malaria.
6. Assessment of the efficacy of the artemisinin derivatives in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria in Viet Nam 1991-2008.

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