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Malaria Drugs Fail to Treat UK Patients

Posted by feww on February 1, 2017

New parasite strains show drug resistance

A frontline drug which was highly effective at treating malaria in the UK, has reportedly failed to cure four patients who contracted the disease in Africa, according to new research published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Infective female Anopheles mosquito infect about 300 million people

Malaria is one of the most common infectious diseases  caused by protozoan parasites. It is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions, including parts of the Americas, Asia, and Africa.

Malaria parasites are micro-organisms of the genus Plasmodium. Of the more than 100 species of Plasmodium, four species can infect humans in nature.

Plasmodium falciparum is the only species that can cause severe, potentially fatal malaria because it multiples rapidly in the blood, often causing anemia (severe blood loss). Additionally, the parasites can clog small blood vessels. If this complication occurs in the brain, it causes cerebral malaria, which can be fatal.


This 2005 photograph depicted a female Anopheles albimanus mosquito while she was feeding on a human host, thereby, becoming engorged with blood.  Like other species in the genus Anopheles, A. albimanus adults hold the major axis of the body more perpendicularly to the surface of the skin when blood feeding. Anopheles spp. adults also generally feed in the evening, or early morning when it is still dark. This species is a vector of malaria, predominantly in Central America. Photo Credit:   James Gathany/CDC.

Each year infective female Anopheles mosquito infect about 300 million people, killing  about 1.5  million. About ninety percent of malaria-related deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.  [Only Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit malaria, and they must have been infected through a previous blood meal taken on an infected person.

See also:  Malaria Disease


The life cycle of the malaria parasite in the human body. Image courtesy of the Medical Arts and Photography Branch, NIH.

“The UK patients, who all recovered after receiving alternative treatment, were found to be infected with new strains of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Although the researchers can’t rule out other factors, they believe the treatment failure was due to these strains showing reduced susceptibility, a potential first sign of drug resistance, to Artemether-lumefantrine (AL), a type of Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT).”

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