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Malar J. 2009 Jul 24;8:169. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-8-169.

Safety of epoietin beta-quinine drug combination in children with cerebral malaria in Mali.

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  • 1Malaria Research Unit, EA 4170, University Lyon 1, Faculty of Medicine, Lyon, France.



Cerebral malaria carries an unacceptable case fatality rate in children despite timely and adequate chemotherapy. To improve the survival rate, adjunctive therapies previously tested mainly focused on the modulation of the inflammatory response, without definitive effect in humans. In this context, a new adjunctive strategy using a neuroprotective drug: erythropoietin (epoietin-beta, Epo) was proposed.


An open-labelled study including cerebral malaria children (Blantyre coma score below 3) was conducted in Mali. The objective was to assess the short-term safety (seven days) of erythropoietin at high doses (1,500 U/kg/day during three days) combined to quinine.


35 patients with unrousable coma were included in the study. None of expected side effects of erythropoietin were observed during the seven days follow-up. No significant increase in the case fatality rate (7/35 patients) was observed compared to other studies with mortality rates ranging from 16 to 22% in similar endemic areas.


These data provide the first evidence of the short-term safety of erythropoietin at high doses combined to quinine. A multicentre study is needed to assess the potential of Epo as an adjunctive therapy to increase the survival during cerebral malaria. CLINICAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ID: NCT00697164.

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