A malaria that resists the drug artemisinin, which was considered a wonder cure for the disease, has been spreading rapidly in the region, causing concern that it could spread globally.
The drug, which is popular because it is fast-acting, has few side effects and was almost 100 per cent effective, is the first choice for combating the parasitic infection, which kills about a million people each year , Telegraph.co.uk reports.
However, in a new study, researchers at the Wellcome Trust-Mahidol University Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Program, based in Bangkok, compared the effects of artemisinin drugs in 40 malaria patients in western Cambodia and 40 patients in northwestern Thailand. On average, the patients in Thailand were clear of malaria parasites within 48 hours, compared to 84 hours for the Cambodian patients , U.S. News & World Report reports.
However, the delay in parasite clearance times shows the drugs are losing their power against the disease in Cambodia, the study said. The failure of artemisinin-based treatments would be “disastrous” for global efforts aimed at curbing the death and disease wrought by the malady, said Arjen Dondorp , who led the study at the Mahidol Oxford Research Unit in Bangkok , Bloomberg reports.