Clinical Pharmacology is essential to ensure optimal dosing with currently available and newly introduced antimalarial drugs. This requires two key questions to be answered: Firstly, what drug exposure (concentrations over time) is necessary to ensure the required therapeutic effect? Secondly, do dosing recommendations need to be modified in important target populations including infants, pregnant women, and those with prevalent co-morbid diseases (especially HIV/AIDS, malnutrition) to ensure the required therapeutic effect in these vulnerable populations? Inadequate drug levels have been repeatedly found in pregnant women and young children. Studies conducted on the Thai Burma border have clearly shown that pregnancy alters the pharmacokinetics of drugs such as atovaquone, proguanil, artesunate and lumefantrine. In turn these changes in the disposition of the drugs affect the treatment efficacy. It is likely that the impact of pregnancy on the pharmacokinetics of some drugs is also related to host genetic factors making it necessary to have some information from each of the 3 continents were studies are being conducted. In order to understand how pregnancy affect the pharmacokinetics of the main antimalarials drugs, and to be able to adapt the regimens used to treat or prevent malaria without risking toxicity but ensuring efficacy, the Malaria in Pregnancy (MIP) Consortium has undertaken a series of pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic studies as part of its main trials. These studies are being analysed both with non-compartmental analysis (NCA) and population pharmacokinetic analysis. However, individual pharmacokinetic studies are almost often underpowered for describing the factors that influence antimalarial pharmacokinetic parameters. It would be advantageous to combine data from all studies to properly describe pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationship.The main limitation in pooling individual patient data from multiple studies is the variability in assay and analysis methodology between pharmacokinetic studies. Another limitation is if different biological matrices (plasma, venous whole blood, venous capillary blood) are used for different studies. There are not always straightforward concentration relationships between different matrices. This further complicates the comparison of results from different studies, pooling of data and meta-analysis of results, sometimes making it impossible to know whether the pharmacokinetic properties in study populations actually differ or whether apparent differences merely reflect variability in the accuracy of the methods used. The main goal of this project is to characterise these different factors through modeling allowing pooling of large series of data.
This project will be based in the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok, Thailand. The project will include training in clinical pharmacology specifically on pharmacokinetics and training in specific software such as WinNonlin and NONMEM. In the Oxford Unit in Thailand there is a large, vibrant, multidisciplinary grouping of scientists and clinicians dedicated to the study of clinically important tropical infections, and the fellow would become part of this Unit. The Unit has weekly scientific meetings at which the fellow would be expected to attend and to present their findings.
Project reference number: 245
|Prof Nicholas PJ Day FMedSci FRCP||Tropical Medicine||Oxford University||UKemail@example.com|
|Prof Nicholas J White FRS||Tropical Medicine||Oxford University||UKfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Prof François H Nosten||Tropical Medicine||Oxford University||UKemail@example.com|
BACKGROUND: Characterization of anti-malarial drug concentration profiles is necessary to optimize dosing, and thereby optimize cure rates and reduce both toxicity and the emergence of resistance. Population pharmacokinetic studies determine the drug concentration time profiles in the target patient populations, including children who have limited sampling options. Currently, population pharmacokinetic studies of anti-malarial drugs are designed based on logistical, financial and ethical constraints, and prior knowledge of the drug concentration time profile. Although these factors are important, the proposed design may be unable to determine the desired pharmacokinetic profile because there was no formal consideration of the complex statistical models used to analyse the drug concentration data. METHODS: Optimal design methods incorporate prior knowledge of the pharmacokinetic profile of the drug, the statistical methods used to analyse data from population pharmacokinetic studies, and also the practical constraints of sampling the patient population. The methods determine the statistical efficiency of the design by evaluating the information of the candidate study design prior to the pharmacokinetic study being conducted. RESULTS: In a hypothetical population pharmacokinetic study of intravenous artesunate, where the number of patients and blood samples to be assayed was constrained to be 50 and 200 respectively, an evaluation of varying elementary designs using optimal design methods found that the designs with more patients and less samples per patient improved the precision of the pharmacokinetic parameters and inter-patient variability, and the overall statistical efficiency by at least 50%. CONCLUSION: Optimal design methods ensure that the proposed study designs for population pharmacokinetic studies are robust and efficient. It is unethical to continue conducting population pharmacokinetic studies when the sampling schedule may be insufficient to estimate precisely the pharmacokinetic profile. Hide abstract
Artemether-lumefantrine has become one of the most widely used antimalarial drugs in the world. The objective of this study was to determine the population pharmacokinetic properties of lumefantrine in pregnant women with uncomplicated multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria on the northwestern border of Thailand. Burmese and Karen women (n = 103) with P. falciparum malaria and in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy were treated with artemether-lumefantrine (80/480 mg) twice daily for 3 days. All patients provided five capillary plasma samples for drug quantification, and the collection times were randomly distributed over 14 days. The concentration-time profiles of lumefantrine were assessed by nonlinear mixed-effects modeling. The treatment failure rate (PCR-confirmed recrudescent infections at delivery) was high; 16.5% (95% confidence interval, 9.9 to 25.1). The population pharmacokinetics of lumefantrine were described well by a two-compartment open model with first-order absorption and elimination. The final model included interindividual variability in all pharmacokinetic parameters and a linear covariate relationship between the estimated gestational age and the central volume of distribution. A high proportion of all women (40%, 41/103) had day 7 capillary plasma concentrations of <355 ng/ml (which corresponds to approximately <280 ng/ml in venous plasma), a threshold previously associated with an increased risk of therapeutic failure in nonpregnant patients in this area. Predictive modeling suggests that a twice-daily regimen given for 5 days would be preferable in later pregnancy. In conclusion, altered pharmacokinetic properties of lumefantrine contribute to the high rates of failure of artemether-lumefantrine treatment in later pregnancy. Dose optimization is urgently needed. Hide abstract
BACKGROUND: To date no comparative trials have been done, to our knowledge, of fixed-dose artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) for the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in pregnancy. Evidence on the safety and efficacy of ACTs in pregnancy is needed as these drugs are being used increasingly throughout the malaria-affected world. The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of artemether-lumefantrine, the most widely used fixed ACT, with 7 d artesunate monotherapy in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. METHODS AND FINDINGS: An open-label randomised controlled trial comparing directly observed treatment with artemether-lumefantrine 3 d (AL) or artesunate monotherapy 7 d (AS7) was conducted in Karen women in the border area of northwestern Thailand who had uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The primary endpoint was efficacy defined as the P. falciparum PCR-adjusted cure rates assessed at delivery or by day 42 if this occurred later than delivery, as estimated by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. Infants were assessed at birth and followed until 1 y of life. Blood sampling was performed to characterise the pharmacokinetics of lumefantrine in pregnancy. Both regimens were very well tolerated. The cure rates (95% confidence interval) for the intention to treat (ITT) population were: AS7 89.2% (82.3%-96.1%) and AL 82.0% (74.8%-89.3%), p = 0.054 (ITT); and AS7 89.7% (82.6%-96.8%) and AL 81.2% (73.6%-88.8%), p = 0.031 (per-protocol population). One-third of the PCR-confirmed recrudescent cases occurred after 42 d of follow-up. Birth outcomes and infant (up to age 1 y) outcomes did not differ significantly between the two groups. The pharmacokinetic study indicated that low concentrations of artemether and lumefantrine were the main contributors to the poor efficacy of AL. CONCLUSION: The current standard six-dose artemether-lumefantrine regimen was well tolerated and safe in pregnant Karen women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria, but efficacy was inferior to 7 d artesunate monotherapy and was unsatisfactory for general deployment in this geographic area. Reduced efficacy probably results from low drug concentrations in later pregnancy. A longer or more frequent AL dose regimen may be needed to treat pregnant women effectively and should now be evaluated. Parasitological endpoints in clinical trials of any antimalarial drug treatment in pregnancy should be extended to delivery or day 42 if it comes later. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN86353884. Hide abstract
Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHP) is an important new treatment for drug-resistant malaria, although pharmacokinetic studies on the combination are limited. In Papua, Indonesia, we assessed determinants of the therapeutic efficacy of DHP for uncomplicated malaria. Plasma piperaquine concentrations were measured on day 7 and day 28, and the cumulative risk of parasitological failure at day 42 was calculated using survival analysis. Of the 598 patients in the evaluable population 342 had infections with Plasmodium falciparum, 83 with Plasmodium vivax, and 173 with a mixture of both species. The unadjusted cumulative risks of recurrence were 7.0% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.6 to 9.4%) for P. falciparum and 8.9% (95% CI: 6.0 to 12%) for P. vivax. After correcting for reinfections the risk of recrudescence with P. falciparum was 1.1% (95% CI: 0.1 to 2.1%). The major determinant of parasitological failure was the plasma piperaquine concentration. A concentration below 30 ng/ml on day 7 was observed in 38% (21/56) of children less than 15 years old and 22% (31/140) of adults (P = 0.04), even though the overall dose (mg per kg of body weight) in children was 9% higher than that in adults (P < 0.001). Patients with piperaquine levels below 30 ng/ml were more likely to have a recurrence with P. falciparum (hazard ratio [HR] = 6.6 [95% CI: 1.9 to 23]; P = 0.003) or P. vivax (HR = 9.0 [95% CI: 2.3 to 35]; P = 0.001). The plasma concentration of piperaquine on day 7 was the major determinant of the therapeutic response to DHP. Lower plasma piperaquine concentrations and higher failure rates in children suggest that dose revision may be warranted in this age group. Hide abstract
A World Antimalarial Resistance Network (WARN) database has the potential to improve the treatment of malaria, through informing current drug selection and use and providing a prompt warning of when treatment policies need changing. This manuscript outlines the contribution and structure of the clinical pharmacology component of this database. The determinants of treatment response are multi-factorial, but clearly providing adequate blood concentrations is pivotal to curing malaria. The ability of available antimalarial pharmacokinetic data to inform optimal dosing is constrained by the small number of patients studied, with even fewer (if any) studies conducted in the most vulnerable populations. There are even less data relating blood concentration data to the therapeutic response (pharmacodynamics). By pooling all available pharmacokinetic data, while paying careful attention to the analytical methodologies used, the limitations of small (and thus underpowered) individual studies may be overcome and factors that contribute to inter-individual variability in pharmacokinetic parameters defined. Key variables for pharmacokinetic studies are defined in terms of patient (or study subject) characteristics, the formulation and route of administration of the antimalarial studied, the sampling and assay methodology, and the approach taken to data analysis. Better defining these information needs and criteria of acceptability of pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic (PK-PD) studies should contribute to improving the quantity, relevance and quality of these studies. A better understanding of the pharmacokinetic properties of antimalarials and a more clear definition of what constitutes "therapeutic drug levels" would allow more precise use of the term "antimalarial resistance", as it would indicate when treatment failure is not caused by intrinsic parasite resistance but is instead the result of inadequate drug levels. The clinical pharmacology component of the WARN database can play a pivotal role in monitoring accurately for true antimalarial drug resistance and promptly correcting sub-optimal dosage regimens to prevent these contributing to the emergence and spread of antimalarial resistance. Hide abstract
OBJECTIVE: To determine the pharmacokinetic properties of artemether and lumefantrine (AL) in pregnant women with recrudescent uncomplicated multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria. METHODS: Pregnant women who had recurrence of parasitaemia following 7 days supervised quinine treatment were treated with AL. Serial blood samples were taken over a 7-day period, and pharmacokinetic parameters were estimated. For lumefantrine, these data were compared in a population pharmacokinetic model with data from non-pregnant, mainly male adults with acute malaria. RESULTS: The pregnant women (five in the second trimester and eight in the third trimester) had lower concentrations of artemether, dihydroartemisinin and lumefantrine, and the elimination of lumefantrine in pregnant women was more rapid than reported previously in non-pregnant adults. CONCLUSION: Pregnancy is associated with reduced plasma concentrations of both artemether and lumefantrine. This is likely to be of therapeutic significance as plasma concentrations of lumefantrine, after elimination of artemether, are an important determinant of cure. Further studies are needed to determine the optimum dose regimen of artemether-lumefantrine in pregnancy. Hide abstract