News / Health

Scientists Race to Contain Malaria: New Discoveries, More Resistance

Scientists Race to Contain Malaria: New Discoveries, More Resistancei
X
May 18, 2013 3:35 AM
Two new medical discoveries are raising hopes of containing malaria - the mosquito-borne parasitic disease that each year infects more than 200 million people and claims an estimated 660 thousand lives. Meantime, the World Health Organization is warning about dire consequences if a drug-resistant form of malaria spreads beyond southeast Asia.

Scientists Race to Contain Malaria: New Discoveries, More Resistance

TEXT SIZE - +
Carol Pearson
Two new medical discoveries are raising hopes of containing malaria - the mosquito-borne parasitic disease that each year infects more than 200 million people and claims an estimated 660 thousand lives.  Meantime, the World Health Organization is warning about dire consequences if a drug-resistant form of malaria spreads beyond southeast Asia.

Artemisinin has helped cut global malaria deaths by more than 25 percent over the past decade. But now, in parts of Southeast Asia, this drug no longer works. And the World Health Organization's Dr. Shin Young-Soo warns of serious setbacks if drug resistance continues to spread.  

"The truth is, that malaria will beat us all unless we do more than what we are doing now, and we do it better," he said.

Controlling malaria involves a range of strategies: using insecticidal bed nets to prevent mosquito bites, spraying insecticides, preventive treatment for children  and pregnant women, and controlling or changing mosquitoes, or the malaria parasites they carry.

The World Health Organization says that in the last 10 years, 20 countries have brought the disease under control. At a U.S. congressional hearing, Dr. Mark Dybul executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said the world is on course to end malaria.

"We've had so much success over the last 10 years that you've heard about, that high-transmission areas are becoming much more confined," said Dybul.

Dybul said global efforts have led to better treatment and more effective control of the mosquito that carries the parasite.
 
Dr. Anthony Fauci, at the US National Institutes of Health, points to promising research that involves introducing a strain of bacteria into the mosquito.

"It's a bacteria that infects the mosquito, and what it does is it interferes with the developmental process that the malaria parasite goes through in the mosquito in its lifecycle," said Fauci.

And once the bacterium is in the mosquito, it's passed down to succeeding generations. The hope is, these malaria-proof mosquitoes eventually will replace those that can carry the parasite.  

"Which means, if you can get this out there among populations of mosquitoes in different regions of the world in different countries, it could have a profound effect on the control of malaria," said Fauci.

The true test, of course, will come when mosquitos infected with the bacterium are released into the wild. Dr. Guowu Bian is the Michigan State University scientist who led this research. He spoke to VOA via Skype.

"I hope in a few years, maybe three or four years, our mosquito can go to the field," he said.

Another promising line of research involves manipulating the mosquito's genes. Right now, the anopheles mosquito has no defense against the malaria parasite. If scientists can change its genetic makeup, the mosquito's immune system could repel the organism.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking as the malaria parasite becomes immune to the world's front-line drug against the disease.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid