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Study: Delaying evolution of drug resistance in malaria parasite possible
Date:9/4/2008

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- There's no magic bullet for wiping out malaria, but a new study offers strong support for a method that effectively delays the evolution of drug resistance in malaria parasites, a University of Florida researcher says.

David Smith, associate director of disease ecology at UF's Emerging Pathogens Institute, said the study will guide scientists and policy makers in extending the longevity of current artemisinin-based malaria drugs combined with partner drugs. Smith is a co-author of a report on the study, scheduled to publish online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and in print on Sept. 16.

Smith collaborated with lead author Maciej Boni of Resources for the Future and Princeton University, and Ramanan Laxminarayan, also with RFF, to create mathematical models assessing the strategic effectiveness and clinical outcomes of using one, two and three first-line drug therapies to treat malaria within a population over a 20-year period. Their results show that using two or three drugs simultaneously reduced the total clinical cases and number of failed treatments , and slowed the rate at which drug-resistant genes spread within the parasites that cause malaria: Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae and P. ovale.

"The models indicate that we can slow the evolution of resistance to current artemisinin-based therapies if nations use them in combination with two or more partner drugs," Smith said. "Currently, most nations don't do this. They use one therapy at a time, wait for it to fail, and then switch to a different therapy."

Artemisinin-combined therapies, or ACTs, are currently not widely implemented due to operational challenges and expense, Smith said. But he said the study offers compelling evidence for global leaders to collaborate and overcome these issues.

"This is not to say that implementing multiple first-line therapies solves all of our malar
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Contact: DeLene Beeland
tdb@epi.ufl.edu
352-870-6856
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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