What Do We Really Know about Malaria Today?

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Well great progress has been made in just the last 10 years to understanding the parasite itself, since the advent of genome sequencing we've now been able to understand all the genes that is in malaria, and understanding greater depth how the malaria parasite evades the host immune system, how it conducts its life cycle, and how drugs might interfere with that life cycle most importantly.

And that's opened the door to finding new drugs and their mechanisms of action. This in turn will hopefully increase or accelerate the pace at which we can develop therapies, and this is important because therapies for malaria have this constant problem as most antimicrobials do.

Eventually the parasites seem to evolve resistance. You may know Chloroquine was one of the most famous, cheap, safe, effective drugs ever developed against malaria. Deployed in World War II onwards, and over the course of 20 plus years the parasite gradually became resistant to it and there's resistance.

Genes basically spread through the population, and now worldwide Chloroquine is not nearly as useful as it once was. We no longer give patients a single drug, this is true for HIV and many things else as well. You would like to give the patient a combination drug reducing the chance or the probability that they'll produce a resistant phenotype that they evolve resistance with time.

And so it's crucial that we add new therapies with new mechanism of action to that pipeline because you can only make combinations out of the existing drugs for so long before parasites become multiply resistant. The front line drug right now is a derivative from Chinese herbal medicine called artemisinin it's been synthesized synthetically, there are combinations that are distributed by Navatis Coatem is one of them and so on.

And that's been a really great drug over the last 5 to 10 years but there's evidence that there may be parasites developing resistance to this drug and that's very worrisome to many in the field because we don't have open cameras in the pipeline that are ready to take over for modern medicine tomorrow.