Letting parasites fight could help battle drug resistance, too | Science News



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Letting parasites fight could help battle drug resistance, too

Mouse malaria study suggests way to keep pathogens from evading medicines

7:00am, July 1, 2016

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Taking advantage of malaria strains battling each other could let doctors treat patients without encouraging more drug resistance, a lab test in mice suggests.

Without drugs, malaria parasites with no resistance to a medicine often can outcompete any pockets of drug-resistant parasites among them, Nina Wale of the University of Michigan pointed out June 18 at the Evolution 2016 conference. The drug-susceptible forms can hog resources and suppress the resistant ones. As drug treatments kill off the susceptible pathogens, however, the once-struggling drug-resistant minority can take over, creating a case of drug-resistant malaria.

As a new strategy for treating diseases without fostering drug resistance, Wale proposed intervening in the competition between parasite forms by weakening the resistant minority. Depleting resources needed more by resistant pathogens could let the susceptible ones wipe out the resistant ones. The result:

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