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Researchers examine the relationship between treatment delay and the development of severe malaria and targeting extra-chromosomal DNA belonging to the malaria parasite could help to prevent the development of antimalarial resistance.
It’s often reported that delays in the treatment of uncomplicated malaria can lead to the development of severe malaria, a form of the disease that carries much greater health risks. A recently-published review of over 9,000 malaria cases examined the relationship between treatment delay and the development of severe malaria. The researchers concluded that the risk of the severe form of the disease is significantly higher among patients with treatment delays and that up to 50% of severe malarial anaemia could have been averted if treatment had been given on the first day of symptoms. These findings emphasise the need for prompt treatment but also recognise the limited access to it in endemic regions.
Researchers have found that a piece of extra-chromosomal DNA belonging to the malaria parasite contributes to its resistance to antimalarial drugs. These genetic elements could be new targets for strategies to prevent the development of resistance.
Image Credits: CDC/ Dr. Mae Melvin 
Scientific Advisor: Katharine Collins, Radboud University Medical Centre