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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high