Resistance to antimalarial drugs is a potentially catastrophic global health threat. With new medicines years away, pragmatic short-term solutions are required. Development of Triple Artemisinin Combination Therapies (DeTACT), a new project funded by UKaid and DFID, combines drug components to create new medicines with extended therapeutic lifetimes. Researchers at the Copernicus Institute will develop strategic advice to facilitate the rapid availability of these new therapies on the African and Southeast Asian markets.
Malaria is a mosquito borne infectious disease caused by single celled Plasmodium parasites. Although its burden has been significantly reduced since the beginning of the century, the disease still takes almost half a million lives a year - mainly children in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is unacceptably high; malaria is easily preventable and effective medicines do exist. An important factor in the reduced burden has been the introduction of Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACT) as the global first-line treatment.
Increasing resistance to current anti-malarial therapies
We are at risk of losing these therapies. Due to the emergence of resistance to artemisinin and partner drug combinations, malaria is becoming increasingly difficult to treat in Southeast Asia. There is an urgent call for action - this multi-drug resistance may spread to India and Sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of the burden is situated. Previous episodes of antimalarial drug resistance have demonstrated the catastrophic potential of this scenario.