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A Cambodian man from Pailin, the area where the highly resistant P. falciparum malaria strain originated. Photo by Alexander Kumar / Global Health Photography © 2018 MORU.

DFID announces support for triple ACT trials in Asia and Africa

23 July 2018

The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) recently announced that it will commit £9.2 million (USD 13.15 million) of funding to support a new malaria research programme lead by the Mahidol-Oxford Research Unit (MORU). The programme entitled ‘Development of Triple Artemisinin Combination Therapies’ (DeTACT), is the third phase in a series of multi-country, multi-site trials and will be implemented across 15 African and Asian countries. DeTACT aims to develop two new safe and effective malaria treatments using combinations of three existing antimalarial drugs.

The DeTACT team, led by the Mahidol Oxford Research Unit (MORU), will evaluate the safety, efficacy, economics, ethics and acceptability of two co-formulated and co-blistered Triple Artemisinin Combination Therapies (TACTs) – artemether-lumefantrine + amodiaquine and DHA-piperaquine + mefloquine.

DeTACT follows on from the Tracking Resistance to Artemisinin Collaboration I & II programmes which sought to investigate the safety and tolerability of novel strategies to combat drug-resistant malaria parasites, including in the toughest areas where DHA-piperaquine resistance was confirmed in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

DeTACT will be a seminal multi-country, multi-site study that aims to solve some of the serious treatment challenges that we face today. It will help us to develop innovative approaches to combat the continuing spread and emergence of drug-resistant malaria across Asia, and prepare us for emergence in Africa. The WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network team in Asia will support the on-site training and clinical trial specimen management for the 15 trial sites.

Dr Mehul Dhorda, Head of WWARN’s Asia Regional Centre comments, ”We hope to confirm that triple artemisinin combinations therapies (TACTs) can provide an effective and safe malaria treatment alternative, prolonging the potential use of the medicines that we have available.”

Prof Philippe Guérin, Director of WWARN, concludes, “Antimalarial resistance is a serious global health threat which we are struggling to keep up with. We know that despite our best efforts to develop a new drug pipeline, non-artemisinin based alternatives will not be available before several years. These trials should provide us with an interim solution to support the global drive to eliminate malaria and help to combat drug resistance. We are proud to be a key partner in this programme.”

DFID’s International Development Secretary Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP announced funding for the programme during the Malaria Commonwealth Summit in London earlier this year. The DeTACT programme will begin in earnest later this year. The DeTACT funding is part of a £100 million (USD 142.9 million) UK fund to be matched by the private sector that will be used to support priority countries with mosquito nets, indoor sprays and strengthening of health systems.

During the announcement, Penny Mordaunt MP confirmed, “The UK government … are the second largest international funder in the world and invest in treatment, prevention and research, including fighting against the threat of drug resistance. Our new commitment will save countless more lives and build a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for us all.”

Read the DFID announcement.