The annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Southampton: Malaria cases 'increasingly drug-resistant'
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent and i. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; four times highly commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigations into the tobacco industry. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Wednesday 26 August 1992
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.
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
Greece debt crisis as it happened: EU chiefs at loggerheads hours before Alexis Tsipras’s last ditch deal proposals
Bakery sends 'horrific' version of Frozen-themed birthday cake to unsuspecting customer
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...