Study shows effectiveness of another form of a schistosomiasis drug

Over 90% of participants had no more parasite eggs in their stool or urine after treatment.

According to Germany's Merck KGaA, an adjusted version of a proven drug against the tropical parasitic worm disease schistosomiasis, has been demonstrated to work in pre-school children. The drug could potentially provide a cure for millions around the world. More than 90% of affected children aged three months to six years had no more parasite eggs in their stool or urine after up to three weeks of treatment in a late-stage trial in Cote d'Ivoire and Kenya. according to the drugmaker. Merck added that it would now seek regulatory approval. Astellas in Japan created arpraziquantel which is an oral drug, an experimental pediatric version of the conventional medicine praziquantel, which Merck further optimized. Merck said that it had been found to have good safety and tolerability.

The company will apply for approval with the European Union's drug authority on behalf of the non-profit Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium as part of a program for novel treatments that address urgent needs in countries outside of Europe. In a supplementary statement, the consortium verified the positive results, stating that schistosomiasis is one of the most dangerous parasite infections, impacting around 240 million people. Praziquantel is the conventional treatment for school-aged children and adults. Though it is not available to an estimated 50 million toddlers and preschoolers which leaves them without any type of treatment option. The disease, also known as bilharzia, is caused by parasitic flatworms in tropical and subtropical locations throughout the world via freshwater snails, but it primarily affects poor and rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.