CANBERRA, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- A higher dose of the antimalarial drug primaquine is needed to prevent relapsing cases of the deadly disease malaria, an Australian research has found.
In two studies published on Monday, a team from the Darwin-based Menzies School of Health Research and the University of Melbourne analyzed the efficacy and safety of primaquine doses to prevent recurrence of malaria among more than 6,800 patients.
They found that increasing the dose of primaquine from 3.5 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) to 7 mg/kg halved the rate of malaria relapse with limited gastrointestinal side effects.
"These important papers highlight that we have been using primaquine at a suboptimal dose for several decades," Rob Commons, lead co-author of the research and senior research fellow at the Menzies School of Health Research, said in a media release.
"Our findings show that using a higher dose of primaquine can reduce malaria relapses by over 50 percent," said Commons, adding that "most countries currently use a lower dose. Our results show the impact that increasing the dose could have on preventing people from getting recurrent malaria.
"The second part of the study confirms that the increased dose is safe in patients at greatest risk of malaria relapses," said Megha Rajasekhar, the co-author and biostatistician from the University of Melbourne.
Primaquine, which works by targeting malaria parasites in the liver and preventing infection from continuing, has been used for more than 60 years to treat the disease.
The authors of the research said their findings could pave the way to widespread implementation of more effective malaria treatment.
According to the latest world malaria report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), there were an estimated 247 million cases of malaria and 619,000 malaria deaths globally in 2021.
The WHO African Region accounted for 95 percent of the cases and 96 percent of the deaths in 2021, the report said.