Experts warn that millions of lives could be at risk due to the fact that the most effective malaria drug loses potency.
Experts have confirmed the discovery of strains of malaria resistant to the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Tests have shown that parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which causes malaria, has undergone a genetic modification that was resistant to artemisinin, the most popular medicine against the disease.
If these strains are not eradicated, experts fear that thousands of lives will die from malaria, as the virus spreads across India and Africa.
Professor Francois Nosten, Malaria Research Unit Shoklo center director in Thailand, said that “we are in a race against time and need to stop these drug-resistant strains before extend”.
“If such strains would spread and become more resistant to drugs, the effect could be devastating. Malaria already kills several hundred thousand people annually, and if current drugs will become ineffective, the number of victims will increase significantly, “added Nosten.
In 2010, malaria killed 655,000 people worldwide, most victims are children and pregnant women. Other estimates say the death toll is even higher, exceeding 1 million.
Since 2006, artemisinin was considered a miracle drug against malaria, because it has very few side effects and is 100% effective.
Resistant strains were detected for the first time in 2009 in western Cambodia, and despite efforts to stop their spread, it appears that they have reached 800 km on the Thailand border with Myanmar to the northwest.
“Fighting malaria is dependent on treatments based on artemisinin. If they fail, there is another product ready to take his place, “warns Dr. Anne-Catrin Uhlemann and Dr. David Fidock of Columbia University in New York.
Source: Daily Mail