The Antidiabetic Drug Rosiglitazone Could Be Used as Adjunctive Treatment for Severe Malaria

A clinical trial in children with uncomplicated malaria shows that the drug is safe and well-tolerated

Photo: By Candy

 A clinical trial conducted by ISGlobal, an institute supported by the “la Caixa” Foundation, in collaboration with researchers from Canada and the Manhiça Health Research Centre (CISM) in Mozambique, shows that the oral antidiabetic drug rosiglitazone is safe and well-tolerated in children with uncomplicated malaria. The results, published in Malaria Journal, pave the way to its evaluation as adjunctive therapy for severe malaria

Despite the availability of effective anti-malarials, the fatality rate of severe malaria in sub-Saharan Africa remains high.  This could be reduced by complementary drugs that target the host’s inflammatory response to the parasite. An example is rosiglitazone, an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and neuroprotective drug approved originally for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. In a mouse model of severe malaria, the drug combined with artesunate improved survival as compared to the anti-malarial alone.  

In this study, the authors conducted a phase 2 clinical trial to test the safety and tolerability of rosiglitazone in children with uncomplicated malaria, as a previous step to testing it in cases of severe malaria. The assay was performed with 30 Mozambican children (1 to 12 years-old) that received rosiglitazone or placebo, in addition to an antimalarial.  The results show that rosiglitazone did not induce hypoglycaemia nor had any adverse effect on clinical, biochemical, haemotological or electrocardiographic parameters.  

This study confirms that rosiglitazone is safe and well-tolerated in children treated for uncomplicated malaria, and paves the way towards its evaluation as adjunctive therapy in children with severe malaria


Varo R, Crowley VM, Sitoe A, Madrid L, Serghides L, Bila R, Mucavele H, Mayor A, Bassat Q, Kain KC. Safety and tolerability of adjunctive rosiglitazone treatment for children with uncomplicated malaria. Malar J. 2017 May 23;16(1):215.