Treating Drug-Resistant Malaria in Southeast Asia

On February 20, 2015, NPR News reported on a recent study conducted by doctors at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok.  The study discovered an increasing incidence of malaria resistant to artemisinins, an important class of antimalarial drugs.  

 

The study focused on Burma (Myanmar), but this type of drug resistance has been detected in several countries in Southeast Asia.  NPR’s Jason Beaubien reports that a major concern is the proximity of these drug-resistant strains to India, where widespread resistance to artemisinins would pose a serious challenge to the effectiveness of currently-available malaria treatments.

 

The potential impact of artemisinin resistance is not yet fully apparent because the drug is often used in conjunction with other drugs in artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs).  Longer-term efforts to mitigate resistance will require the development of new alternative drugs. In a recent Q&A, the World Health Organization stated that “the spread or independent emergence of artemisinin resistance in other parts of the world could pose a major health security risk as no alternative antimalarial medicine is available at present with the same level of efficacy and tolerability as ACTs.”

 

The Global Innovation Commons has compiled repositories of public domain innovation containing knowledge that may be useful in exploring alternative antimalarial therapies for Southeast Asian nations experiencing artemisinin resistance.  The information contained within these disclosures is in the public domain in the countries of interest and open for use by anyone under the Global Innovation Commons framework.  Our sets include over 2,000 public domain patents related to malaria treatment and prevention in each of Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

 

You can view all of the GIC sets on Malaria by country here: http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/malaria

 

Sources:

Beaubien, Jason. “The World Could Be On The Verge Of Losing A Powerful Malaria Drug.” NPR News. 20 Feb. 2015. http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/02/20/387533918/the-world-could-be-on-the-verge-of-losing-a-powerful-malaria-drug

World Health Organization. “Q&A on artemisinin resistance.” February 2015. http://www.who.int/malaria/media/artemisinin_resistance_qa/en/

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