Conference Coverage

New pediatric therapies show promise for influenza, multidrug-resistant pathogens



More therapies are becoming available for children for the treatment of influenza and multidrug-resistant infections such as Enterobacteriaceae and Acinetobacter, John S. Bradley, MD, said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. John S. Bradley

Dr. John S. Bradley

Dr. Bradley, director of the division of infectious diseases at Rady Children’s Hospital–San Diego, discussed a therapy for influenza, baloxavir, which was recently approved as a fast-acting single-dose medication and currently is under study in children. Also, a recent double-blind, phase 3 trial in the New England Journal of Medicine recruited patients as young as 12 years old. In the study, patients in the intervention group resolved their fever in median 25 hours, compared with 42 hours in the placebo group. Baloxavir better reduced viral load at day 2, compared with oseltamivir and placebo, but there was a similar alleviation of symptoms between both groups. There was a greater incidence of nausea and vomiting among the oseltamivir group, while the baloxavir group had a higher rate of diarrhea (N Engl J Med 2018;379:913-23).

However, Dr. Bradley noted baloxavir is much more expensive than oseltamivir, which may not justify the better tolerance of the drug for influenza treatment.

You don’t get better with it faster, so I’m not going to be recommending you all run to baloxavir this flu season for kids 12 years of age and older,” Dr. Bradley said. “I think oseltamivir is still fine, unless we end up with oseltamivir resistance.”

Solithromycin, an intravenous and oral fluoroketolide, has shown promising results against gram-positive and gram-negative pathogens for community-acquired pneumonia and other infections. During the drug’s study period, Cempra sold solithromycin to Melinta. However, one trial showed elevated liver functions in a higher number of patients than expected, and the Food and Drug Administration asked Melinta to conduct additional studies. Investigations on solithromycin have currently stopped until Melinta secures funding. “Until they get better resources, this particular drug is on hold, but you’ll see it again, I’m sure,” said Dr. Bradley, who also is professor and chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Bradley also discussed the efficacy of tedizolid, a protein synthesis inhibitor similar to linezolid approved in adults for the treatment of skin infections. He noted tedizolid is more active than linezolid, but the treatment course is a shorter dose for a shorter amount of time. Compared with linezolid, which can cause thrombocytopenia or neutropenia if taken for more than 10 days to 14 days, there also are fewer side effects.

“The tedizolid is much, much safer,” Dr. Bradley said, who added that trials for efficacy of tedizolid are currently underway in pediatric patients. “We’re hoping that will end up being the pediatric oxazolidinone.”

Other investigative therapies approved for adults and under study for use in children include ceftazidime/avibactam for treatment of urinary tract and complicated intra-abdominal infections, which is effective against meropenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and resistant Escherichia coli with extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL); ceftolozane/tazobactam has also been approved for adults, is pending approval in pediatric patients, and is active against ESBLs such as Pseudomonas; and meropenem/vaborbactam, which is active against Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)–producing isolates. Plazomicin, an aminoglycoside similar to gentamicin used to treat KPC-producing isolates, is stable against enzymes that degrade gentamicin and tobramycin.

A cluster of Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria. CDC/ Matthew J. Arduino

Therapies currently under study for adults and being considered for children include imipenem/relebactam for treatment against E. coli, Enterobacter species, and KPC-producing isolates, and cefiderocol, a siderophore cephalosporin antibiotic – commonly described as a “Trojan horse” antibiotic because it binds to iron and is actively transported into the organism – is effective against Pseudomonas and has finished phase 2 trials in adults, with researchers looking to do single-dose trials in children, Dr. Bradley noted.

More experimentally, phage therapy for multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii proved effective in a 68-year-old patient with necrotizing pancreatitis who continued to deteriorate over a 4-month period despite multiple courses of antibiotics and attempted drainage of a pancreatic pseudocyst. Researchers selected a phage-specific bacterium with specificity for A. baumannii and cured him. “This is like science fiction,” Dr. Bradley said.

Dr. Bradley reported no relevant conflicts of interest.

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