Therapeutic efficacy of generic artemether–lumefantrine in the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in Ghana: assessing anti-malarial efficacy amidst pharmacogenetic variations

Nicholas Ekow Thomford, Tracy Kellermann, Robert Peter Biney, Charné Dixon, Samuel Badu Nyarko, Richmond Owusu Ateko, Martins Ekor, George B. Kyei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Despite efforts made to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with malaria, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, malaria continues to be a public health concern that requires innovative efforts to reach the WHO-set zero malaria agenda. Among the innovations is the use of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) that is effective against Plasmodium falciparum. Generic artemether–lumefantrine (AL) is used to treat uncomplicated malaria after appropriate diagnosis. AL is metabolized by the cytochrome P450 family of enzymes, such as CYP2B6, CYP3A4 and CYP3A5, which can be under pharmacogenetic influence. Pharmacogenetics affecting AL metabolism, significantly influence the overall anti-malarial activity leading to variable therapeutic efficacy. This study focused on generic AL drugs used in malarial treatment as prescribed at health facilities and evaluated pharmacogenomic influences on their efficacy. Methods: Patients who have been diagnosed with malaria and confirmed through RDT and microscopy were recruited in this study. Blood samples were taken on days 1, 2, 3 and 7 for parasite count and blood levels of lumefantrine, artemisinin, desbutyl-lumefantrine (DBL), and dihydroartemisinin (DHA), the active metabolites of lumefantrine and artemether, respectively, were analysed using established methods. Pharmacogene variation analysis was undertaken using iPLEX microarray and PCR–RFLP. Results: A total of 52 patients completed the study. Median parasite density from day 1 to 7 ranged from 0–2666/μL of blood, with days 3 and 7 recording 0 parasite density. Highest median plasma concentration for lumefantrine and desbutyl lumefantrine, which are the long-acting components of artemisinin-based combinations, was 4123.75 ng/mL and 35.87 ng/mL, respectively. Day 7 plasma lumefantrine concentration across all generic ACT brands was ≥ 200 ng/mL which potentially accounted for the parasitaemia profile observed. Monomorphism was observed for CYP3A4 variants, while there were observed variations in CYP2B6 and CYP3A5 alleles. Among the CYP3A5 genotypes, significant differences in genotypes and plasma concentration for DBL were seen on day 3 between 1/*1 versus *1/*6 (p = 0.002), *1/*3 versus *1/*6 (p = 0.006) and *1/*7 versus *1/*6 (p = 0.008). Day 7 plasma DBL concentrations showed a significant difference between *1/*6 and *1/*3 (p = 0.026) expressors. Conclusions: The study findings show that CYP2B6 and CYP3A5 pharmacogenetic variations may lead to higher plasma exposure of AL metabolites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125
JournalMalaria Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


  • Artemether–lumefantrine
  • CYP2B6
  • CYP3A5
  • Generic anti-malarials
  • Pharmacogenomics
  • Pharmacokinetics


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