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Acta Trop. 2002 May;82(2):175-81.

Recent investigations of artemether, a novel agent for the prevention of schistosomiasis japonica, mansoni and haematobia.

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  • 1Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, Shanghai, China.


Two decades ago, a group of Chinese scientists discovered the antischistosomal properties of artemether, a derivative of the antimalarial drug artemisinin. However, it was only recently that the importance of this finding was recognized internationally, following a collaborative effort between Chinese, European and African scientists, who investigated the effects of artemether against the major human schistosome species. Laboratory studies revealed that artemether exhibits the highest activity against juvenile stages of the parasites, while adult worms are significantly less susceptible. There was no indication of neurotoxicity following repeated high doses of artemether given fortnightly for up to 5 months. Randomized controlled clinical trials confirmed that artemether, orally administered at a dose of 6 mg/kg once every 2-3 weeks, results in no drug-related adverse effects, and significantly reduces the incidence and intensity of schistosome infections. The risk that these treatment regimens might select for resistance, particularly for resistant-plasmodia, appears to be low. Combined treatment with artemether and praziquantel, given to animals harbouring juvenile and adult schistosome worms, resulted in significantly higher worm burden reductions than each drug administered singly. In conclusion, artemether-integrated with other control strategies-has considerable potential for reducing the current burden of schistosomiasis in different epidemiological settings.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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