Efficacy and Safety of Mefloquine, Artesunate, Mefloquine-Artesunate, and Praziquantel against Schistosoma haematobium: Randomized, Exploratory Open-Label Trial

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Background.Morbidity control of schistosomiasis relies on a single drug, praziquantel. The antimalarial drug mefloquine possesses interesting antischistosomal properties, yet no clinical studies have been performed.Methods.We conducted a randomized, exploratory open-label trial to assess the efficacy and safety of mefloquine (25 mg/kg), artesunate (3 doses of 4 mg/kg), mefloquine-artesunate (3 doses of 100 mg artesunate plus 250 mg mefloquine), and praziquantel (40 mg/kg) against Schistosoma haematobium. The effects on Schistosoma mansoni, malaria parasitemia, soil-transmitted helminths, and intestinal protozoa were also determined.Results.A total of 83 S. haematobium-infected schoolchildren were included in the study. Cure rates of mefloquine, artesunate, mefloquine-artesunate, and praziquantel against S. haematobium at day 26 after treatment were 21%, 25%, 61%, and 88%, respectively. Both mefloquine-artesunate and praziquantel resulted in egg reduction rates >95%. Significantly lower egg reduction rates were seen in the artesunate (85%) and mefloquine groups (74%). In children coinfected with S. mansoni, praziquantel and mefloquine-artesunate, but not mefloquine and artesunate alone, resulted in high cure rates and egg reduction rates. Mefloquine, artesunate, and mefloquine-artesunate completely cured infections due to Plasmodium falciparum. No effects were found against soil-transmitted helminths and intestinal protozoa. Abdominal pain was the most frequent adverse event, with a higher incidence among children treated with mefloquine (89%), mefloquine-artesunate (83%), and artesunate (60%) than among children treated with praziquantel (46%).Conclusions.The high efficacy of mefloquine-artesunate against S. haematobium warrants further investigation. Individuals coinfected with Plasmodium and Schistosoma who were treated with a mefloquine-artesunate combination against malaria might have a dual benefit: clearance of malaria parasitemia and reduction of schistosomiasisrelated morbidity.Clinical trials registration.Current Controlled Trials identifier: ISRCTN06498763.

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