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Malaria takes on the top meds

Parasite starting to overcome frontline drug regimen

5:20pm, October 28, 2008

WASHINGTON — Like a basketball team that plays best against its toughest opponents, the parasite that causes malaria is showing signs of thwarting the most potent drugs currently used against it. Scientists report that top-line drugs called artemisinins take nearly twice as long to knock out the parasite in people who contract malaria in western Cambodia as the drugs take in other areas — suggesting the parasite is finding ways to thwart the drugs’ effects.

Physician Arjen Dondorp of Mahidol University in Bangkok presented the findings on October 27 in Washington, D.C. at a joint meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Society for Microbiology.

Hints of artemisinin weakening have emerged bit by bit over the past few years in a handful of reports from Southeast Asia, and most scientists are still loath to call the trend outright drug resistance. But the reports are worrisome, says Philip Rosenthal, an infectious dise

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