A new species of malaria parasite is resistant to the front line treatment for malaria.
ScienceDaily — Evidence that the most deadly species of malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, is becoming resistant to the front line treatment for malaria on the border of Thailand and Myanmar was reported in The Lancet April 5.This increases concern that resistance could now spread to India and then Africa as resistance to other antimalarial drugs has done before. Eliminating malaria might then prove impossible.
The study coincides with research recently published in Science in which researchers in south east Asia and the USA identify a major region of the malaria parasite genome associated with artemisinin resistance. This region, which includes several potential candidate genes for resistance, may provide researchers with a tool for mapping resistance.
Both studies, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health, follow reports in 2009 of the emergence of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites in western Cambodia, 800km away from the Thailand-Myanmar border where the new cases of resistance have been observed. Resistance to artemisinin makes the drugs less effective and could eventually render them obsolete, putting millions of lives at risk.
According to the World Malaria Report 2011, malaria killed an estimated 655,000 people in 2010, mainly young children and pregnant women. It is caused by parasites that are injected into the bloodstream by infected mosquitoes. Plasmodium falciparum is responsible for nine out of ten deaths from malaria. Keep on reading...