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IV Drug Effective Against Malaria in Soldiers

Artemisia annua showing promise as intravenous malaria drug in U.S. soldiers

FRIDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Used for centuries as the purgative known as wormwood, extract of Artemisia annua in intravenous form clears the malaria parasite from the blood more rapidly than other anti-malarials currently on the market, according to U.S. Army investigators. They reported results using IV artesunate this week at the 54th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Washington, D. C.

Peter J. Weina, M.D., of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, noted that U. S. soldiers deployed to regions where malaria is endemic are at particular risk of acute infection because they have no acquired immunity against this potentially fatal infection.

There are no FDA-approved IV drugs using artemisinins, highly effective anti-malarial compounds, for treatment in the United States. Weina is conducting a phase I study using IV artesunate in U.S. soldiers with acute malarial infection.

Preliminary data are promising enough that Weina has successfully filed an Investigational New Drug Application with the FDA. "We envision our formulation of a cGMP-produced, FDA-licensed, intravenous artesunate being available for the world as well as for our own troops to use in the very near future," the authors write.

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