... In a small community in Western Cambodia, scientists are puzzling over why malaria parasites seem to be developing a resistant to drugs - and fearing the consequences....More here at the liberal Guardian.
In the past, artesunates have always cleared malaria parasites from the blood in two or three days. But after four days of monitored treatment, Chhem Bunchhin was still testing positive for parasites.
Dr Delia Bethell, an investigator working on the clinical trials, said he wasn't alone. Out of about 90 patients included in the study so far, roughly a third to half were still positive for malaria parasites after three days, some even after four or five days. ...
"It appears that the parasite probably is developing some kind of tolerance or is somehow less sensitive to the effects of the drug. But nobody knows why that might be." ...
The concern is that this could be the start of emerging resistance to the artemesinin family of drugs.
If full-blown resistance did develop, it would be extremely dire.
"This is by far the most effective drug we have," explained Dr Bethell.
"And there are no new drugs coming through the system in the next few years."
Scientists are particularly concerned because the last two generations of anti-malarial drugs were undermined by resistance.
... Professor Nick Day, director of the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, is also running clinical trials in the region.
He and his team have also found that artesunate-type drugs are starting to become less effective.
This resistance must be contained urgently, because its spread would be a global health disaster, he said.
Resistance to previous malaria drugs caused major loss of life in Africa, he said.
"If the same thing happens again, the spread of a resistant parasite from Asia to Africa, then that will have devastating consequences for malaria control."
In a clearing in the jungle, about one and a half hours drive from Pailin along rough dirt roads, I watched health workers distribute mosquito nets to about 200 villagers.
It's one of a series of measures being rushed through to stop the spread of resistant parasites.
If they're not contained, history may repeat itself - and the fear is that many millions of people worldwide will lose their protection against this deadly disease.
The solution is simple: use more DDT.
There's only one thing preventing it: LIBERALS.