29 April 2013
A new kind of malaria has appeared which is not affected by the main drug against the disease.
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Artemisinin is a frontline drug in the fight against malaria. It's used around the world, and can clear the infection in just a few days.
But reports of resistance began to emerge in western Cambodia in 2008, and this has now spread to other areas in South East Asia.
To investigate, scientists sequenced the genomes of more than 800 malaria-causing parasites collected from all around the world.
They found that some of the strains present in Cambodia were significantly different to the rest, and these were able to withstand artemisinin treatment.
The researchers don't yet know how the parasites are beating the drugs.
But they say understanding their genetic fingerprint will help them to quickly detect and track these strains if they spread.
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leading, most important
the ability not to be affected or harmed by something, especially a drug
appear, become known
- sequenced the genomes
determined the order of genetic material (DNA)
plants or animals that live in or on other plants or animals and feed on them
to be strong enough not to be harmed or destroyed by something; resist
- genetic fingerprint
the unique pattern of a plant or animal's genes
to discover something (often using special equipment)
follow the movement or development of something