Antibiotic drug resistance by parasites has become a very great challenge in the realm of medical research and disease treatment. The observed antibiotic inefficiency can be attributed to new trends of drug-resistant mechanisms displayed by recently evolved pathogenic parasites. If these drug-resistant trends are not urgently combated, human health may revert to the Iron-age era when there was no cure or prevention for diseases of the day. As a way of shining a limelight on antibiotic drug resistance, I chose to discuss the popular health mystery related to plasmodium resistance to quinine and its derivatives.
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Quinine, a crystalline alkaloid obtained from the bark of the Cinchona tree was discovered to possess antipyretic and anti-malarial as well as anti-inflammatory properties early in the 17th century. It is known to be the first remedy for malaria treatment available at the time, particularly due to its therapeutic potency in destroying Plasmodium falciparum: the most virulent Plasmodium strain. It was also found to be a very strong antibiotic destroying other malaria parasites such as Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium ovale which are the main malaria-etiological agents within the tropical regions. Since its discovery by the Quechua Indians of Peru and Bolivia, quinine and its derivatives have been in use for the effective treatment of malaria diseases until recently when some Plasmodium strains evolved to confer resistance to quinine drugs (Olasehinde, 2011).
Great breakthrough had been achieved through industrial synthesis of synthetic quinine drugs such as Chloroquine, proguanil, Fansidar, and Atovaquone: which contains sulfadoxine and pyrimethamine as the active antimicrobial agents. These are commonly referred to as Sulfadoxine-Pyrimathamine antimalarials (SP). Of late, Plasmodium parasites have developed resistance to SP’s and therefore they are no longer used as First-line drugs in the treatment of malaria. Plasmodium parasites are believed to have undergone adaptive evolution to counter antimicrobial effects of quinine and its derivatives. Quinine resistance by plasmodium has been found to have occurred due to two major reasons. The first is administration of sub-lethal quinine dosage by patients suffering from malaria diseases. Due to exposure to low potent amounts of quinine, plasmodium parasites produced anti-quinine proteins which conferred them with quinine drug resistance. Secondly, Plasmodium parasites are believed to have formed a drug efflux mechanism over time that continually pumps quinine from the body of the parasite so as to prevent it from reaching lethal levels that can kill the parasite (Packard, 2007). These mutant strains evolved further to develop total resistance to virtually all quinolones.
Resistance of Plasmodium to quinine and its derivatives has brought adverse consequences to human health and the medical field in general. Due to total resistance to quinine antimalarials by plasmodium, the disease has become hard to treat thus deaths caused by malaria are on the increase particularly within the tropical regions. The greatest groups at malaria risk are children under five years of age and pregnant mothers. In fact, malaria is currently the leading cause of infant deaths (Packard, 2007).
To combat this rapid drug resistance, a change of antimalarials chemotherapy is ideal. For instance, substitution of quinine drugs with Artemisinin drugs will halt Plasmodium resistance effectively thus enhance the fight against malaria (Olasehinde, 2011).
Week 3 Peer Post Replies
Response to Post by – Elamin Daouda
Hi Elamin! Thanks for your post on the use of Umbilical Cord for biotechnological application in medicine. However, I would wish to direct your point of view on this aspect towards its magnificent role in correction of genetic disorders and other deformities especially in newborns. The Umbilical cord blood is very reliable in gene therapy as you highlighted. It contains of the so called totipotent cells which are known to develop into any human body cell type upon induction with the appropriate stimuli just like it happens with stem cells. When harvested at birth and stored properly, these totipotent cells can be used to correct any genetic disorder that may manifest itself in the later stages of growth and development (Zaikov, 2004). As such, this technology serves as a useful tool in gene therapy which attempts to correct genetic disorders such as sickle-cell anemia and enzyme deficiencies.
Response to Post by – Roderick Gilbert
Hi Roderick! I liked your choice of biotechnology application. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer has gained a widespread application in medicine. As a matter of strengthening your intuitive focus on this technology I wish to broaden your statement. First, SCNT is primarily used in invivo synthesis of tissues for damaged organs such as the liver and spinal cord of terminally ill patients. The patient provides the donor cells which are transferred into an egg the implanted into a surrogate mother. The resulting sibling is usually a replica of the donor. However, this technology has faced great resistance due to ethical issues.
Response to Post by – Shinterra Dupree
Hi Shinterra! I’m very impressed by your choice of Chloroplast Vector System even though it has not yet become much popular. However, I wish to bring to your attention that, application of this method to produce transgenes incorporates many fatalities due to accidental mutations.
Olasehinde, G., (2011). Antimalarial Drug Resistance. Saarbrucken: Lambert Academic Publishers.
Packard, R., (2007). The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria. Baltimore: JHU Press.
Zaikov, G., (2004). Biotechnology and Medicine. New York: Nova Publishers.