Researchers discover way to identify artemisinin-resistant malaria

Published on December 20, 2013 at 6:53 AM · No Comments

Detection of drug resistance would aid public health efforts

WHAT:

An international team of researchers has discovered a way to identify, at a molecular level, malaria-causing Plasmodium falciparum parasites that are resistant to artemisinin, the key drug for treating this disease. The research team, which included scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, published their findings today in the journal Nature.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 627,000 people died of malaria in 2012. Artemisinin, in combination with other drugs, is the first-line treatment for malaria. In recent years, however, artemisinin-resistant malaria has appeared in patients in Southeast Asia, and researchers have begun exploring ways to maintain the drug's effectiveness. To monitor the spread of artemisinin resistance, scientists need a way to identify drug-resistant, malaria-causing parasites, the study authors write. They sought to fill this need by sequencing the complete genetic information of a laboratory-generated strain of artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum, and of both resistant and susceptible parasites found in nature in Cambodia, and then searching for links between the parasites' genes and resistance to the drug.

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