Monday January 20, 2020

Strains of Malaria Resistant to Two Key Anti-Malarial Medicines Becoming More Dominant in Southeast Asia

Strains of malaria resistant to two key anti-malarial medicines are becoming more dominant in Vietnam

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Malaria, Medicine, Asia
FILE - Children living in the Thai-Myanmar border come to a malaria clinic to get tested in Sai Yoke district, Kanchanaburi province, Thailand, Oct. 26, 2012. VOA

Strains of malaria resistant to two key anti-malarial medicines are becoming more dominant in Vietnam, Laos and northern Thailand after spreading rapidly from Cambodia, scientists warned Monday.

Using genomic surveillance to track the spread of drug-resistant, the scientists found that the strain, known as KEL1/PLA1, has also evolved and picked up new genetic mutations which may make it yet more resistant to drugs.

“We discovered [it] had spread aggressively, replacing local parasites, and had become the dominant strain in Vietnam, Laos and northeastern Thailand,” said Roberto Amato, who worked with a team from Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute and Oxford University and Thailand’s Mahidol University.

It is caused by Plasmodium parasites which are carried by mosquitoes and spread through their blood-sucking bites.

Malaria, Medicine, Asia
FILE – Village malaria worker Phoun Sokha, 47, shows his malaria medicine kit at O’treng village on the outskirts of Pailin, Cambodia, Aug. 29, 2009. VOA

Almost 220 million people were infected with malaria in 2017, according to World Health Organization estimates, and the disease killed 400,000 of them. The vast majority of cases and deaths are among babies and children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Malaria can be successfully treated with medicines if it’s caught early enough, but resistance to anti-malarial drugs is growing in many parts of the world, especially in Southeast Asia.

The first-line treatment for malaria in many parts of Asia in the last decade has been a combination of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine, also known as DHA-PPQ. Researchers found in previous work that a strain of malaria had evolved and spread across Cambodia between 2007 and 2013. This latest research, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, found it has crossed borders and tightened its grip.

“The speed at which these resistant malaria parasites have spread in Southeast Asia is very worrying,” said Olivo Miotto, who co-led the work.

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“Other drugs may be effective at the moment, but the situation is extremely fragile and this study highlights that urgent action is needed,” he said. (VOA)

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Aspirin Can Be Helpful in Tumour, Colorectal Cancer Treatment: Study

The research team tested three varying daily doses of aspirin in four colorectal cancer cell lines

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Aspirin
Aspirin is a 'miracle drug' because of its potential to prevent diseases that result from chronic inflammation, such as cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and arthritis. Pixabay

The benefits of a daily aspirin may extend beyond heart health to colorectal cancer treatment, say researchers, adding that they have found that aspirin appears to reduce tumour growth and inhibit recurrence of the disease.

The trick now is to determine the right dosage of aspirin that can be used as a daily prophylactic without triggering dangerous side effects such as stomach and brain bleeds, the research said.

“Some might say aspirin is a ‘miracle drug’ because of its potential to prevent diseases that result from chronic inflammation, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and arthritis,” said Indian-origin study researhcher Ajay Goel from the City of Hope clinic in the US.

The reason aspirin isn’t currently being used to prevent these diseases is because taking too much of any anti-inflammatory eats at the stomach’s mucus lining and causes gastrointestinal and other problems.

“We are getting closer to discovering the right amount of daily aspirin needed to treat and prevent colorectal cancer without causing scary side effects,” Goel added.

The study, published in the journal Carcinogenesis, used mouse models and mathematical modeling to parallel the amount of daily aspirin people in the US and Europe are taking in clinical trials.

The research team tested three varying daily doses of aspirin in four colorectal cancer cell lines, including tumours with microsatellite instability and mutations in the PIK3CA gene, which has been tied to increased risk of endometrial, colon and aggressive breast cancers.

Aspirin
The benefits of a daily aspirin may extend beyond heart health to colorectal cancer treatment, say researchers, adding that they have found that aspirin appears to reduce tumour growth and inhibit recurrence of the disease. Pixabay

Then the researchers divided 432 mice into four groups: control, low-dose aspirin (15mg/kg), medium-dose aspirin (50mg/kg) and high-dose aspirin (100mg/kg) — the mouse equivalent of 100mg, 300mg and 600mg for humans.

The tumours from three mice in each treatment group were analysed on days three, five, seven, nine and 11.

Researchers inspected “cellular apoptosis” (programmed cell death) and found that the percentage of cells programmed to die increased in all cell lines.

Exactly how much, however, depended on the amount of aspirin that was consumed, suggesting that aspirin triggers a domino effect of cell death in all colorectal cell lines regardless of genetic background.

The research found that as the aspirin doses increased, the rate of cell death increased while the division rates of cells decreased, meaning tumour cells were more likely to die and not proliferate.

Notably, the scientists observed that low-dose aspirin was especially effective in suppressing tumour growth in animal models that had more PIK3CA genes.

Aspirin
The trick now is to determine the right dosage of aspirin that can be used as a daily prophylactic without triggering dangerous side effects such as stomach and brain bleeds. Pixabay

The finding was significant because the mutated version of these genes has been associated with increased risk of certain cancers, the researchers said.

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“We are now working with some of the people conducting those human clinical trials to analyse data and use mathematical modelling. This process adds a layer of confidence to the findings and guides future human trial designs,” Goel said. (IANS)