Faculty of Social Sciences

Modelling and Simulation to Improve Antimalarial Therapy

  • Date: 11/24/2017 at 1:15 PM
  • Location: Room B41, BMC, Husargatan 3, Uppsala
  • Lecturer: Lohy Das, Jesmin Permala
  • Website
  • Organizer: Institutionen för farmaceutisk biovetenskap
  • Contact person: Lohy Das, Jesmin Permala
  • Disputation

The introduction of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) substantially reduced malaria-related mortality and morbidity during the past decade. Despite the widespread use of ACT, there is still a considerable knowledge gap with regards to safety, efficacy and pharmacokinetic properties of these drugs, particularly in vulnerable populations like children and pregnant women. In addition, there is growing evidence of widespread artemisinin-resistance across the Greater Mekong Subregion. Expedited delivery of novel antimalarial drugs with different mechanisms of action to the clinical setting is still far off; therefore, it is crucial to improve the use of existing antimalarial drugs for optimal outcome in order to prolong their therapeutic life span.

This thesis focuses on utilizing pharmacometric tools to support this effort for malaria prevention and treatment.

An extensive simulation framework was used to explore alternative malaria chemopreventive dosing regimens of a commonly used ACT, dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. Different monthly and weekly dosing regimens were evaluated and this allowed an understanding of the interplay between adherence, loading dose and malaria incidence. A weekly dosing regimen substantially improved the prevention effect and was less impacted by poor adherence. This is also expected to reduce selection pressure for development of resistance to piperaquine.

Population pharmacokinetics-pharmacodynamic models were developed for artesunate and the active metabolite dihydroartemisinin, effect on parasite clearance, in patients with artemisinin-resistant and -sensitive malaria infections in Southeast Asia. The modeling identified an association between parasite density and drug bioavailability. It predicted the presence of high levels of artemisinin resistant infection among patients in Cambodia and its spread into Myanmar. A nomogram to identify patients with artemisinin resistant infections was developed. Furthermore, the model was used to demonstrate the need for extended treatment duration to treat patients with artemisinin resistant infections.

A population pharmacokinetic model developed from data on pregnant women in East Africa allowed further understanding of artemether-lumefantrine exposure in pregnant populations. It also suggested that the lumefantrine exposure in this population is not compromised.

In summary, the results presented in this thesis demonstrate the value of pharmacometric approaches for improving antimalarial drug treatment and prevention. This ultimately contributes to overcoming the prevailing challenges to malaria control.