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Last Updated: Friday, 2 January, 2004, 14:58 GMT
Drug cocktail 'may beat malaria'
Malaria kills millions each year
Scientists believe they may have found a powerful new weapon against drug-resistant malaria.

A team of experts from around the world says an ancient Chinese remedy when used in combination with modern drugs can beat these strains of the disease.

Their claims, made in the latest issue of The Lancet, follow a review of 16 clinical trials involving almost 6,000 people since 1992.

They say the remedy called artemisinin may even help to eradicate the disease.

Chinese medicine

Artemisinin is an extract of sweet wormwood which has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds if not thousands of years to treat malaria.

In recent years, it has grabbed the attention of experts in the rest of the world who are struggling to find alternative treatments to fight the disease.

This inexpensive, fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination antimalarial could make important contributions to 'rolling back malaria
International Artemisinin Study Group
The number of people being diagnosed with malaria that is resistant to conventional drugs is rising fast. The problem is particularly bad in Africa.

Malaria now claims the lives of one million children every year. An estimated 300 million people are infected with the disease annually.

The International Artemisinin Study Group, which includes prominent malaria experts from around the world, examined the results of 16 trials carried out over the past decade.

Twelve of these studies were carried out in sub-Saharan Africa. Three were based in Thailand and one was carried out in Peru.

All of those involved in the study were given artemisinin alongside conventional drugs to treat malaria.

The study group said the results from all of the trials showed this is a very effective approach.

Patients who received this combination beat the disease faster and were less likely to suffer a relapse.

The scientists said the drugs combination is a cheap and effective way of treating the disease. They said it could also dramatically boost efforts to finally eradicated the disease.

"If used widely, this inexpensive, fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination antimalarial could make important contributions to 'rolling back malaria'," they wrote.




SEE ALSO:
Malaria
08 Feb 03  |  Medical notes
New drug hope for malaria
17 Nov 01  |  Health


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