drug-resistant malaria strain listed in Asia: scientists ;
A drug-resistant malaria parasite above is limited to Southeast Asia and not yet has spread to sub-Saharan Africa as feared, researchers said on Wednesday.
Scientists confirmed the contention by performing the first global study that assigns resistance “artemisinin”, currently the main drug against malaria.
An international consortium supported by the World Health Organization conducted research in 59 endemic countries.
The mapping system allows scientists to monitor the spread of parasite resistance Plasmodium falciparum in near real time, allowing them to quickly assess whether or not the use of artemisinin drugs will be effective in treating certain areas , one of the key authors of the study, Didier Menard, told AFP.
“So far, scientists have not had the tools to be properly informed about the nature of resistance to anti-malarial drugs in key regions affected, such as sub-Saharan Africa,” Menard, a researcher at the Pasteur Institute said Cambodia.
The emergence of resistant strains of malaria to artemisinin-first detected in Cambodia in 2008, has seriously undermined the global fight against the deadly virus.
Menard added that the mapping project marks a “public health advance so necessary in the fight against malaria,” said Menard.
The virus transmitted by infected 214 million people in 2015 mosquitoes, killing 438,000, especially young children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Known as the KARMA study, the research came from the 2014 discovery of Pasteur Institute of Cambodia K13 gene whose presence can predict whether a parasite resistance to artemisinin will.
The use of information researchers studied the diversity of the gene in more than 14,000 infected blood samples: 72 percent came from Africa, 19 percent in Asia, Latin America 8 percent and 1 percent in Oceania .
Scientists collected all samples after 2012, allowing researchers to reconstruct the most current understanding of the situation.
Keeping one step ahead of the deadly parasite
The study is particularly important for researchers, as it also was in Southeast Asia that chloroquine-resistant parasites, the first medication used to fight malaria was first detected in late 1960.
Scientists did not detect molecular markers that identify these parasites until after the virus had spread to Africa, killing millions of people.
“We must ensure that we use this technology to stay one step ahead of the parasite and prevent history repeating itself tragically in Africa,” Menard said.
The KARMA study identified 70 novel mutations of K13 protein, adding to the 103 already known, including four that indicates resistance to artemisinin.
Essentially, the study confirmed that the most common gene mutation detected in Africa is not linked to resistance.
The investigation discovered two isolated outbreaks of strains resistant to drugs in the border regions of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, as well as western Burma and southern Thailand, suggesting that international efforts to contain the spread of resistant parasites have been effective.
Menard said patients infected with resistant strains of malaria are generally treated with a combination of drugs, antimalarials particularly older people who are effective when administered in doses similar to treatment with antibiotics.
WHO has also recommended that treat patients extends up to seven days.
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