Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Africa is hardly synonymous with world class science. However, there are occasional islands of excellence such as the Malaria Research and Training Centre (MRTC) in Bamako, Mali.

The principal activity of the MRTC is tracking the spread of resistance to available drugs. Among its achievements is a method for testing DNA from the malarial parasite, taken from samples of infected blood, to detect specific point mutations in the genes encoding certain enzymes. The mutations go hand in hand with resistance to particular drugs. Through a large number of sample tests, the researchers build up a map of the areas where many parasites are resistant to each drug. The results, sent back to the health ministry, serve to determine which drugs are used where. The MRTc researchers are also engaged in ways to prevent the serious consequences of malaria such as anaerma and coma.

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