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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Protecting the malaria drug arsenal: halting the rise and spread of amodiaquine resistance by monitoring the PfCRT SVMNT type

  • Author(s): Sa, Juliana M
  • Twu, Olivia
  • et al.

Abstract The loss of chloroquine due to selection and spread of drug resistant Plasmodium falciparum parasites has greatly impacted malaria control, especially in highly endemic areas of Africa. Since chloroquine removal a decade ago, the guidelines to treat falciparum malaria suggest combination therapies, preferentially with an artemisinin derivative. One of the recommended partner drugs is amodiaquine, a pro-drug that relies on its active metabolite monodesethylamodiaquine, and is still effective in areas of Africa, but not in regions of South America. Genetic studies on P. falciparum parasites have shown that different pfcrt mutant haplotypes are linked to distinct levels of chloroquine and amodiaquine responses. The pfcrt haplotype SVMNT (termed after the amino acids from codon positions 72-76) is stably present in several areas where amodiaquine was introduced and widely used. Parasites with this haplotype are highly resistant to monodesethylamodiaquine and also resistant to chloroquine. The presence of this haplotype in Africa was found for the first time in 2004 in Tanzania and a role for amodiaquine in the selection of this haplotype was suggested. This commentary discusses the finding of a second site in Africa with high incidence of this haplotype. The >50% SVMNT haplotype prevalence in Angola represents a threat to the rise and spread of amodiaquine resistance. It is paramount to monitor pfcrt haplotypes in every country currently using amodiaquine and to re-evaluate current combination therapies in areas where SVMNT type parasites are prevalent.

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