Lifestyle & Belief

Drug-resistant malaria found in Africa


A Congolese woman and her malarial child speak with a doctor at the Makpandu refugee camp outside Yambio, south Sudan, on Jan. 14, 2011.


Spencer Platt

Scientists have found genetic mutations of the deadliest malaria parasite in Africa that are resistant to drugs, Science Daily reported. The drugs, called artemisinins, are the best and most commonly used treatments for malaria.  

The research group, a team from the University of London, discovered the drug resistance in parasite samples taken from 11 malaria-infected patients, out of 28 who were being studied. In those 11 patients, the drugs' effectiveness was reduced by half on average, according to Science Daily, and each parasite was found to have the same genetic mutations.

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The study, however, did not look at the patients’ actual response to the drugs. But the researchers warned that the results are not good. “Resistance in a test tube usually leads to resistance at some stage down the line in patients,” study leader Sanjeev Krishna told the Associated Foreign Press.

In 2010, 655,000 people died from Malaria, and most of those deaths were in Africa,  according to the World Health Organization.  The WHO says that resistance to malaria drugs is a recurring problem, and resistance to artemisinins was first reported on the Cambodia-Thailand border in 2009. 

A vaccine for malaria, meanwhile, has been in development for the past 25 years, the New York Times reported in October