Background: The development of novel artemisinin-combination therapies suitable for the treatment of pediatric patients suffering from malaria is a research priority. The aim of this study was to investigate a novel fixed-dose pyronaridine-artesunate combination for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Gabonese patients 2-14 years old.
Methods: The study was designed as an open-label dose-escalation study recruiting 60 pediatric patients sequentially in 4 treatment cohorts: study drugs were administered once daily for 3 days, as tablet coformulations (pyronaridine:artesunate ratios of 6:2, 9:3, and 12:4 mg/kg) and as a granule coformulation (pyronaridine:artesunate ratio of 9:3 mg/kg). The primary end points were tolerability, safety, and pharmacokinetics of pyronaridine-artesunate treatment. Efficacy was treated as a secondary outcome measure.
Results: The drugs had a good tolerability and safety profile, at all dose levels. Pharmacokinetic analysis revealed a dose-dependent increase in the maximum plasma/blood concentration and the area under the curve, as well as comparable relative bioavailability for the granule coformulation. Polymerase chain reaction-corrected cure rates at day 28 were 100% in per-protocol analysis, at all dose levels.
Conclusions: Pyronaridine-artesunate is a promising novel artemisinin-combination therapy for pediatric patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, and the development of both the tablet and the granule coformulations is warranted.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00331136.