HIV Treatment Fends Off Malaria – ScienceNOWPosted: March 14, 2012
Lumefantrine, unlike artemether, stays in the body for weeks, which provides some protection against malaria. Given that ritonavir blocks cytochrome p450, a liver enzyme that plays a key role in metabolizing drugs, the researchers wondered whether the drug might have extended lumefantrines preventive effects. Blood samples from the children showed that those receiving ritonavir had nearly fivefold higher levels of lumefantrine 7 days after receiving the antimalarial. “We think that these higher lumefantrine exposures were really what was driving the protection against recurrent episodes of malaria,” Achan said.Carlos “Kent” Campbell, who heads the Malaria Control Program at PATH, a nonprofit organization in Seattle, says bed nets remain the most critical prevention strategy. He also notes that most children who are vulnerable to malaria are not infected with HIV and have no need for antiretrovirals. Yet Campbell says in HIV-infected children, the “unanticipated positive consequences” of ritonavir could have the added benefit of reducing persistent parasitemia caused by malaria, a leading cause of anemia in young children in many African countries. “Its a very interesting finding and could help decide which antiretroviral regimen to use in areas where theres an increased malarial burden,” says Campbell, who previously headed the malaria branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC.