September 10, 2009

New anti-malaria drug shows promise

A new study in Bangladesh suggests tigecycline -- the first member of a new class of antibiotics -- might be effective against multi-drug-resistant malaria.

Researchers said tigecycline shows significant anti-malarial activity on its own and can be administered in combination with traditional anti-malarial drugs.

The increasing drug resistance of Plasmodium falciparum, one of the parasites that cause malaria, has resulted in the search for new anti-malarial therapies. The scientists said tigecycline belongs to a novel class of antibiotics called glycylcyclines that exhibit unique and novel methods of action against bacteria and are specifically designed to overcome two mechanisms of tetracycline resistance.

In the study, blood samples were collected from male and non-pregnant female patients in Bangladesh infected by P. falciparum. Patients who had received malaria drug therapy up to 30 days prior were excluded.

When tested, tigecycline showed one the highest activities of all antibiotics against P. falciparum. Additionally, tigecycline was up to 6 times more active than doxycycline, a drug often used to prevent malaria. However, when tigecycline was tested in conjunction with doxycycline, a significant activity correlation was noted.

The researchers from the Medical University of Vienna, the Malaria Research Initiative in Bandarban, Bangladesh; and the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, located in Dhaka, Bangladesh, report their findings in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.