Ahmed M. Musa 1 , * , Brima Younis 1 , Ahmed Fadlalla 2 , Catherine Royce 3 , Manica Balasegaram 3 , Monique Wasunna 4 , Asrat Hailu 5 , Tansy Edwards 6 , Raymond Omollo 4 , Mahmoud Mudawi 1 , Gilbert Kokwaro 7 , 8 , Ahmed El-Hassan 1 , Eltahir Khalil 1
26 October 2010
A recent study has shown that treatment of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) with the standard dose of 15 mg/kg/day of paromomycin sulphate (PM) for 21 days was not efficacious in patients in Sudan. We therefore decided to test the efficacy of paramomycin for a longer treatment duration (15 mg/kg/day for 28 days) and at the higher dose of 20 mg/kg/day for 21 days.
This randomized, open-label, dose-finding, phase II study assessed the two above high-dose PM treatment regimens. Patients with clinical features and positive bone-marrow aspirates for VL were enrolled. All patients received their assigned courses of PM intramuscularly and adverse events were monitored. Parasite clearance in bone-marrow aspirates was tested by microscopy at end of treatment (EOT, primary efficacy endpoint), 3 months (in patients who were not clinically well) and 6 months after EOT (secondary efficacy endpoint). Pharmacokinetic data were obtained from a subset of patients weighing over 30 kg.
42 patients (21 per group) aged between 4 and 60 years were enrolled. At EOT, 85% of patients (95% confidence interval [CI]: 63.7% to 97.0%) in the 20 mg/kg/day group and 90% of patients (95% CI: 69.6% to 98.8%) in the 15 mg/kg/day group had parasite clearance. Six months after treatment, efficacy was 80.0% (95% CI: 56.3% to 94.3%) and 81.0% (95% CI: 58.1% to 94.6%) in the 20 mg/kg/day and 15 mg/kg/day groups, respectively. There were no serious adverse events. Pharmacokinetic profiles suggested a difference between the two doses, although numbers of patients recruited were too few to make it significant (n = 3 and n = 6 in the 20 mg/kg/day and 15 mg/kg/day groups, respectively).
Data suggest that both high dose regimens were more efficacious than the standard 15 mg/kg/day PM for 21 days and could be further evaluated in phase III studies in East Africa.
Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a parasitic disease transmitted through the bite of sandflies. The WHO estimates 500,000 new cases of VL each year, with more than 90% of cases occurring in Southeast Asia, East Africa, and South America. If left untreated, VL can be fatal. We had previously conducted a large multi-center study in Sudan, East Africa, to assess the efficacy of paromomycin (PM) alone or in combination with sodium stibogluconate. Clinical studies in India have shown that 15 mg/kg/day PM for 21 days was an effective cure. However, the same treatment regimen was not efficacious in two study sites in Sudan. Here, our aim was to assess two high-dose regimens of PM in Sudan: 15 mg/kg/day for 28 days and 20 mg/kg/day for 21 days. The results suggest that, at these total doses, PM is more efficacious than when given daily at 15 mg/kg for 21 days, and that high doses are required to treat VL in Sudan. Efficacy of 20 mg/kg/day PM for 21 days is currently being evaluated in a prospective, comparative phase III trial in East Africa.