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Measuring the Plasmodium falciparum HRP2 protein in blood from artesunate-treated malaria patients predicts post-artesunate delayed hemolysis

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Science Translational Medicine  05 Jul 2017:
Vol. 9, Issue 397, eaaf9377
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf9377

A quick test to predict artesunate-induced anemia

Anemia frequently affects patients treated for severe malaria with artemisinin drugs. Artemisinin kills malaria parasites, which are then expelled from infected red blood cells. These “deparasitized” red blood cells persist in the blood but are later destroyed, resulting in anemia. Ndour et al. now show that the deparasitized red blood cells retain the parasite protein HRP2, which explains why HRP2 can still be detected in patients after the malaria infection has been cleared. The amount of HRP2 in the blood immediately after treatment with artemisinin correlates with the number of deparasitized red blood cells in the circulation. HRP2 can be measured with a rapid diagnostic dipstick test that then can be used to predict the risk for delayed hemolysis and anemia in malaria patients treated with artemisinin.

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