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New Drug Combo Battles Malaria

Therapy including Chinese herbal medicine overcomes drug-resistant disease

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 7, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Combination drug therapy using a common Chinese herbal medicine may offer the best hope for tackling malaria, claim two articles and a commentary in the current issue of The Lancet.

Drug resistance is the main barrier for effectively treating the millions of people worldwide who are affected by malaria.

Extract of sweet wormwood, also called artemisinin, could solve the problem. Researchers say a derivative of artemisinin was found to be highly effective in treating the disease when added to other antimalarial drugs.

The derivative, artesunate, decreased treatment failure by around 80 percent and doubled the rate of successful treatment when compared with patients given standard malaria treatment, according to the International Artemisinin Study Group's research.

The study involved about 6,000 patients in 16 randomized trials: 12 from sub-Saharan Africa, three from Thailand and one from Peru.

Artemisinin combination treatment could help reduce the incidence of malaria and prevent the emergence and spread of drug-resistant parasites in Africa and elsewhere, the researchers concluded.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about malaria.

SOURCES: The Lancet, news release, Jan. 2, 2004
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