Thursday March 21, 2019

India and Africa are the next Destination for Malaria Parasites: Study

Sri Lanka is supposed to be malaria-free and it too should start worrying.

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Malaria, Wikimedia

Bengaluru, Feb 3, 2017: Detection of malaria parasites resistant to the front line artemisinin (ART) combination therapy in some south Asian countries should worry India, Govindarajan Padmanabhan a top biochemist and malaria researcher at the Indian Institute of Science here has warned.

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Africa and India can as well be the superbug’s next destination and, if it spreads, this will pose a disaster, Padmanabhan told this correspondent, adding: Sri Lanka is supposed to be malaria-free and it too should start worrying.

The British journal Lancet Infectious Diseases had recently reported that P. falciparum malaria parasites resistant to both ART and its widely used partner drug, piperaquine, are now spreading quickly throughout western Cambodia, southern Laos and northeastern Thailand.

The study, by researchers at Mahidol University in Thailand and Oxford University, warned that the consequences of resistance spreading further into India and Africa could be grave if drug resistance is not tackled from a global public health emergency perspective.

Artemisinin, also known as qinghaosu — extracted from the Artemisia annua plant — is a powerful and perhaps the only really effective anti-malarial at present. But because ART has a very short half-life, the World Health Organisation had insisted that it should only be used as a combination with another long-acting anti-malarial.

Thus came the combination therapies: ART-lumefantrine, ART-meflaquine, ART- Sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine (ART-SP) and Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PPQ).

Padmanabhan said that over the years, the malaria parasite had developed resistance even to many combination therapies, except DHA-PPQ, that had remained very effective.

Now the recent report of the parasite’s resistance to this combination also is really worrisome.

The spread of resistance will be a huge challenge to health workers, he said. This challenge will always go on and that is why I really want to try ART-curcumin combination, which may be an answer to resistance development, the scientist noted.

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Curcumin, is the compound that gives turmeric (haldi) its trademark bright yellow colour.

The ART-curcumin combination is unique, with potential advantages over the known combination therapies, Padmanabhan said. In trials carried out on mice, three oral doses of curcumin following a single injection of artemisinin to infected mice were able to ensure almost 100 per cent survival of the animals.

In addition to having a direct killing effect as an anti-malarial, curcumin is also able to prime the immune system against malaria parasites in mice rendering the combination to act like a therapeutic vaccine, Padmanabhan said.

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Thus, this combination has unique potential to prevent parasite recrudescence and relapse. Besides it is cheap and no resistance against it is known since it is a dietary supplement.

Padmanaban and his team are hoping to start human trials of an artemisinin-curcumin combination therapy in both simple malaria cases and in the treatment of the deadly cerebral malaria. He said regulatory clearances are awaited.

(IANS)

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Report Claims, As Many As 1 Billion Indians Live in Areas of Water Scarcity

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater -- 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater -- 12 per cent of the global total.

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Global groundwater depletion - where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally - increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India's rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period. Pixabay

As many as one billion people in India live in areas of physical water scarcity, of which 600 million are in areas of high to extreme water stress, according to a new report.

Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid.

This number is expected to go up to five billion by 2050, said the report titled “Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water 2019”, released to mark World Water Day on March 22.

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Pure water droplet. Pixabay

Physical water scarcity is getting worse, exacerbated by growing demand on water resources and and by climate and population changes.

By 2040 it is predicted that 33 countries are likely to face extremely high water stress – including 15 in the Middle East, most of Northern Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Spain. Many – including India, China, Southern Africa, USA and Australia – will face high water stress.

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Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid. Pixabay

Global groundwater depletion – where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally – increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India’s rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period.

Also Read: Beware! Sipping Hot Tea Raises Risk of Esophageal Cancer

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater — 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater — 12 per cent of the global total.

The WaterAid report warned that food and clothing imported by wealthy Western countries are making it harder for many poor and marginalised communities to get a daily clean water supply as high-income countries buy products with considerable “water footprints” – the amount of water used in production — from water-scarce countries. (IANS)