US researchers to develop gene chip technology to fight malaria
The researchers from the US University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health are looking to deploy gene chip technology to lessen or contain drug resistance to malaria, which is an increasing issue globally and specifically in Southeast Asia.
They are developing a gene chip which could contribute to identifying drug resistance in the blood samples.
Lead researcher, Michael Ferdig said, “The goal is to see resistance as it is emerging, respond in real-time and modify strategies to save a drug, like protecting it with new formulations and combinations tailored to the specific location of emergence.” Mr. Ferdig also said, “We now have markers for emerging resistance and new hypotheses that we will use to track down the resistance mechanism.”
Francois Nosten, Director of the Shoklo Malaria Research unit said, “Southeast Asia and in particular western Cambodia, is the region where all the resistances in plasmodium falciparum have emerged.”
According to the experts, the gene chip technology is years away from the practical participation. “The gene chip is only at the first stage of being developed,” said, Mr. Nosten.
Artemisinin is a natural plant product representing first-line treatment for malaria. “Several groups are competing to find the molecular markers of resistance to artemisinin, but it will take several years before something is usable in the field and we do not have this time to waste," Mr. Nosten also said.