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Malaria Resistance Stems from Uncontrolled Artemisinin Use

Isolates from French Guiana and Senegal show loss of sensitivity to the drug

THURSDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Artemisinin-resistant strains of malaria have been found in French Guiana and Senegal, where use of the drug is uncontrolled, according to a report in the Dec. 3 issue of The Lancet. The report indicates the need for increased vigilance and coordination in drug deployment.

Ronan Jambou, M.D., of the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal, and colleagues tested the artemisinin sensitivity of 530 isolates of Plasmodium falciparum collected from Cambodia, French Guiana and Senegal. Cambodia contrasts from French Guiana and Senegal in that it has controlled use of artemisinin for malaria.

The study authors found that artemisinin concentrations needed to inhibit isolates from French Guiana and Senegal were up to 117 and 45 nmol/L, respectively, and drug resistance was linked to a mutation in the sarco/endoplasmic reticulum calcium-dependent ATPase (SERCA) gene. Samples from Cambodia did not show loss of sensitivity.

"Jambou and colleagues' paper is a wake-up call; resistance to artemisinins may indeed be selected by uncontrolled use of artemisinins as monotherapy or in conjunction with ineffective partner drugs," write Patrick Duffy and Carol Sibley in an accompanying editorial.

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