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A lineage of multidrug resistant P. falciparum malaria has widely spread and is now established in parts of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, causing high treatment failure rates for the main falciparum malaria medicines, artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs)

Global malaria control threatened by multidrug resistant strain 1

Bangkok, 2 February 2017 – A lineage of multidrug resistant P. falciparum malaria has widely spread and is now established in parts of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, causing high treatment failure rates for the main falciparum malaria medicines, artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), according to a study published today in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The emergence and spread of artemisinin drug resistant P. falciparum lineage represents a serious threat to global malaria control and eradication efforts. The authors warn that malaria parasites resistant to both artemisinin and its widely used partner drug piperaquine are now spreading quickly throughout Cambodia, with fitter multidrug resistant parasites spreading throughout western Cambodia, southern Laos and northeastern Thailand.

'We now see this very successful resistant parasite lineage emerging, outcompeting its peers, and spreading over a wide area. It has also picked up resistance to the partner drug piperaquine, causing high failure rates of the widely used artemisinin combination therapy DHA-piperaquine,' says study lead author Prof. Arjen Dondorp, Head of Malaria and Deputy Head of the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Thailand, Asia. 'We hope this evidence will be used to reemphasize the urgency of malaria elimination in the Asia-region before falciparum malaria becomes close to untreatable.'

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