Published on February 20, 2013 at 1:43 AM
The possibility of lower drug sensitivity of juvenile parasites was first suspected when the team studied the parasite's digestive system using a revolutionary 3D imaging technique called electron tomography at the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne. This initial work was supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coherent X-ray Science.
"In juvenile stages the parasite's digestive system is not yet active, which explains how this stage can avoid the effects of the drug," Professor Tilley said.
"We hope that our findings will provide a guide for changing the timing of the drug treatment regime and developing longer lasting drugs, thereby killing more of the parasites and reducing the development of drug resistance."
The next steps for the team are to try and establish why certain strains are more resistant to ART drug attack than others.
"With the current political will in malaria-affected countries to combat the disease, and funding for implementation of anti-malarial strategies available from the NHMRC, Gates Foundation and other donors, the basic research being done in Australia will be quickly translated into lives saved in the field," added Professor Tilley.
Source: University of Melbourne