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Efficacy of antimalarial treatment in Guinea: in vivo study of two artemisinin combination therapies in Dabola and molecular markers of resistance to sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine in N'Zérékoré.Bonnet, M; Roper, C; Félix, M; Coulibaly, L; Kankolongo, G M; Guthmann, J P; Epicentre, 8, Paris, France. email@example.com (BioMed Central, 2007)BACKGROUND: In the last five years, countries have been faced with changing their malaria treatment policy to an artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), many with no national data on which to base their decision. This is particularly true for a number of West African countries, including Guinea, where these studies were performed. Two studies were conducted in 2004/2005 in programmes supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres, when chloroquine was still national policy, but artesunate (AS)/sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) had been used in refugee camps for two years. METHODS: In Dabola (central Guinea), 220 children aged 6-59 months with falciparum malaria were randomized to receive either AS/amodiaquine (AQ) or AS/SP. In vivo efficacy was assessed following the 2003 World Health Organization guidelines. In a refugee camp in Laine (south of Guinea), where an in vivo study was not feasible due to the unstable context, a molecular genotyping study in 160 patients assessed the prevalence of mutations in the dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr) (codons 108, 51, 59) and dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) (codons 436, 437, 540) genes of Plasmodium falciparum, which have been associated with resistance to pyrimethamine and sulphadoxine, respectively. RESULTS: In Dabola, after 28 days of follow-up, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-adjusted failure rates were 1.0% (95%CI 0-5.3) for AS/AQ and 1.0% (95%CI 0-5.5) for AS/SP. In the refugee camp in Laine, the molecular genotyping study found three dhfr mutations in 85.6% (95%CI 79.2-90.7) patients and quintuple dhfr/dhps mutations in 9.6% (95%CI 5.2-15.9). CONCLUSION: Both AS/AQ and AS/SP are highly efficacious in Dabola, whereas there is molecular evidence of established SP resistance in Laine. This supports the choice of the national programme of Guinea to adopt AS/AQ as first line antimalarial treatment. The results highlight the difficulties faced by control programmes, which have gone through the upheaval of implementing ACTs, but cannot predict how long their therapeutic life will be, especially in countries which have chosen drugs also available as monotherapies.