Pharmacokinetic (PK) studies are routinely used in the study of malaria to understand, for example, how (and for how long) different drugs act on the malaria parasite, so that we can establish treatment protocols to effectively clear infection. Blood samples are taken from study-participants at a number of times post-treatment to monitor the concentration of the drug within an individual.
The design of these PK-malaria studies – e.g., when to take the blood samples – is often governed by logistical (what time individuals can come into a clinic), financial (how many samples we can afford to measure) and ethical constraints (how many samples we can feasibly take from each individual, and how close these samples can be), coupled with prior knowledge of the drug concentration time profile. There exists a suite of tools within the field of “optimal experimental design”, that have been developed for this purpose. They aim to answer the question: “What is the best way to allocate my limited resources, in order to learn the most about the PK-profile?”.
We are currently utilising state-of-the-art Bayesian optimal experimental design methods to establish the best use of the limited resources we have in the malaria-affected regions, for the purposes of these PK-studies. Going forward, we aim to use these methods to answer other questions of how to design experiments in these regions to more effectively learn about, e.g., the spread of resistant malaria, or how and where to sample during clinical trials of new anti-malarial treatments.
Other related publications:
- A robust design for identification of the Parasite Clearance Estimator
- Optimal designs for population pharmacokinetic studies of the partner drugs co-administered with artemisinin derivatives in patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria
- Optimal designs for population pharmacokinetic studies of oral artesunate in patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria