Wednesday January 22, 2020

Most Effective Drug Used to Treat Malaria Becoming Ineffective in Parts of Southeast Asia

The report warns that the parasite Plasmodium falciparum — which causes the most lethal form of human malaria

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Drug, Malaria, Asia
FILE - A public health worker takes a blood sample from a woman to be tested for malaria in Bo Rai district, Trat provice, Thailand. VOA

Scientists warn the most effective drug used to treat malaria is becoming ineffective in parts of Southeast Asia — and unless rapid action is taken, it could lead to a global health emergency.

Writing in the Lancet journal, researchers from Thailand’s Mahidol University and Britain’s Oxford University say parasites that carry malaria are developing resistance to a key drug combination across multiple regions of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The report warns that the parasite Plasmodium falciparum — which causes the most lethal form of human malaria — is becoming resistant to the first-choice drug, DHA-piperaquine, in parts of Southeast Asia, with patients seeing a failure rate of 50 percent or more.

The situation is so critical that scientists say the treatment should not be used in Cambodia, Vietnam and northeast Thailand, because it is ineffective and contributes to increased malaria transmission.

Drug, Malaria, Asia
Scientists warn the most effective drug used to treat malaria is becoming ineffective in parts of Southeast Asia — and unless rapid action is taken. Pixabay

New treatments must be considered, says Sterghios Moschos of the University of Northumbria.

“It might be opportune at this point in time to explore whether or not we should bring together different new classes of medications so that when the problem starts becoming more substantial, there is a solution potentially that works at the multi-drug level,” said Moschos.

The report says urgent action is now needed to eliminate falciparum malaria from the region — otherwise the resistant strains of the parasite could further spread to other parts of Asia and Africa, potentially causing global health emergency.

“All it takes is a ship with infected individuals, or a pool of water where mosquitoes are, getting into Africa and then slowly that parasite establishing a foothold,” he added. “The likely scenario, however, will be that improvement of health care on a day-to-day basis in Africa will create the opportunity for the parasite to evolve resistance.”

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Currently, malaria vaccine trials are under way in several African countries. But drug combinations like DHA-piperaquine remain vital in treating malaria — especially in countries with poor health systems.

Since 2014, global progress against malaria has stalled. There were an estimated 219 million cases and 435,000 related deaths in 2017, most of them children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa. (VOA)

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Here’s How Marijuana can Have an Impact on Your Driving Ability

Marijuana may affect driving ability for 12 hours after use

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Marijuana
Marijuana use may have an impact on driving ability even 12 hours after use. Pixabay

Researchers have found that marijuana use may have an impact on driving ability even 12 hours after use.

The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found that in addition to chronic, heavy, recreational cannabis use being associated with poorer driving performance in non-intoxicated individuals compared to non-users.

While several studies have examined the direct effect of cannabis intoxication on driving, no other studies until now have examined the effects on driving in heavy marijuana users who are not high.

“People who use cannabis don’t necessarily assume that they may drive differently, even when they’re not high,” said study researcher Staci Gruber from McLean Hospital in the US.

“We’re not suggesting that everyone who uses cannabis will demonstrate impaired driving, but it’s interesting that in a sample of non-intoxicated participants, there are still differences in those who use cannabis relative to those who don’t,” Gruber added.

Marijuana
While several studies have examined the direct effect of cannabis intoxication on driving, no other studies until now have examined the effects on driving in heavy marijuana users who are not high. Pixabay

For the findings, the research team used a customised driving simulator to assess the potential impact of cannabis use on driving performance.

At the time of study, marijuana users had not used for at least 12 hours and were not intoxicated.

Overall, heavy marijuana users demonstrated poorer driving performance as compared to non-users.

For example, in the simulated driving exercise, marijuana users hit more pedestrians, exceeded the speed limit more often, made fewer stops at red lights, and made more center line crossings.

When researchers divided the marijuana users into groups based on when they started using cannabis, they found that significant driving impairment was detected and completely localized to those who began using marijuana regularly before age 16.

“It didn’t surprise us that performance differences on the driving simulator were primarily seen in the early onset group,” said study researcher Mary Kathryn Dahlgren.

According to the authors, research has consistently shown that early substance use, including the use of cannabis, is associated with poorer cognitive performance.

“What was interesting was when we examined impulsivity in our analyses, most of the differences we saw between cannabis users and healthy controls went away, suggesting that impulsivity may play a role in performance differences,” Dahlgre added.

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“There’s been a lot of interest in how we can more readily and accurately identify cannabis intoxication at the roadside, but the truth of the matter is that it is critical to assess impairment, regardless of the source or cause,” she said. o

“It’s important to be mindful that whether someone is acutely intoxicated, or a heavy recreational cannabis user who’s not intoxicated, there may be an impact on driving,” she added. (IANS)