The annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Southampton: Malaria cases 'increasingly drug-resistant'

Malaria has become so resistant to drugs that some parts of the world may become no-go areas to travellers who fear catching the disease.

Delegates at the meeting in Southampton yesterday were given bleak warnings about the rise in drug-resistant strains of the potentially lethal blood parasite transmitted by mosquito bites.

Adrian Hill, a malaria researcher at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University, said: 'There is a danger that no matter what (drugs) you give to people travelling to dangerous parts of the world, you can't guarantee they won't get malaria.'

The threat is not only to short- term visitors to Africa, South America and Asia. Two million children in those continents die each year from malaria. According to Dr Hill, this figure could easily rise to 10 million a year as drug-resistant strains spread.

Studies in Thailand by scientists funded by the Wellcome Trust demonstrated that drugs were losing the battle against the main malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. The trust said that the researchers had found clear evidence that quinine, which has been used for 500 years, was becoming ineffective.

'It is predicted that within five years many malaria cases in parts of Thailand and adjacent countries will be untreatable with any currently available drug,' the trust said. Scientists also reported a 'dramatic upsurge' in drug-resistant strains of the parasite in Kenya. Drug-resistant malaria was now widespread throughout sub- Sahara Africa, and the situation was equally grave in Central and South America. Bridget Ogilvie, the trust's director, said: 'It's a very worrying prospect.' She said that companies were reluctant to spend the huge amounts of money necessary to develop new drugs and vaccines, particularly if the disease was prevalent in countries that could not afford to pay for the drugs.

Attempts to produce a working malaria vaccine have proved unsuccessful. The results of the biggest trial of a prototype, on tens of thousands of volunteers in South America, have yet to be evaluated.

Dr Hill said another line of vaccine research was to investigate the 10 human genes that conferred some degree of resistance against malaria.

One such gene, which is linked with a 40 per cent reduction in a child's risk of severe malaria, appears to help the human immune system to recognise and attack the malaria parasite.

Other parasites are also becoming increasingly resistant to drugs, researchers told the conference. Nematode worms, which infect one in five of the population and cause serious disorders such as elephantiasis and river blindness, can produce strains resistant to the anthelmintic drugs used to treat infection.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas