University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers have launched groundbreaking research into the spread of potentially deadly drug-resistant malaria in the developing Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, also known as Burma. The scientists, working as part of a large international team coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), have identified several promising genetic markers that could be used to develop tests to identify and track the spread of the newest type of drug-resistant malaria in Southeast Asia, including Myanmar. The scientists describe these new candidate markers in an article published online Dec. 17 in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Additionally, two new National Institutes of Health awards to the University of Maryland School of Medicine are some of the first U.S. federal funds to support the study of malaria in Myanmar. Myanmar, long an isolated sovereign state, ended military rule last year and is gradually opening its doors to the rest of the world. In November, President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country.
The University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers will use the new funding to track the spread of artemisinin-resistant malaria and train local investigators in cutting-edge molecular and pharmacology lab practices to help their country cope with the problem. Artemisinin-resistant malaria is a new type of resistant malaria that reacts slowly to the first-line treatment against the deadly disease, the artemisinin group of drugs. Malaria is caused by a parasite transmitted in the bite of a mosquito. The disease causes fevers and other symptoms that can lead to coma and even death. There were 216 million cases of malaria in the world in 2010, according to the WHO, and 655,000 deaths, most of them children in Africa. In Africa, a child dies every minute from malaria, also according to the WHO.
"Myanmar has about three pe
|Contact: Karen Robinson|
University of Maryland Medical Center