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Right combination of malaria drugs?

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12:27pm, June 12, 2007

Children in Uganda recover from malaria faster when taking an herb-based combination therapy than when given standard drugs, solidifying the herbal drugs as frontline treatments for malaria in Africa.

Artemisinin is made from the leaves of the Chinese wormwood shrub (SN: 2/7/04, p. 94), and the drugs artesunate and artemether are derivatives known to kill the parasites that cause malaria.

Researchers monitored the health of 601 children for up to 19 months. During that time, 329 came down with malaria caused by the protozoan Plasmodium falciparum. The scientists randomly assigned some of these kids to get one of the artemisinin derivatives in combination with longer-acting drugs. Others received pills combining sulfadoxine and pyrimethamine, an old, inexpensive therapy still used extensively in Africa (SN: 11/11/06, p. 307).

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