Artemisinin drug resistance and monitoring: a narrative review

*1Iwuafor, A. A., 1Ogban, G. I., 1Emanghe, U. E., 2Erengwa, P. C., 2Offiong, A. B.,      2Nsor, G. E., and 2Owai, P. A.

1Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of Basic Clinical Sciences, University of Calabar, Nigeria

2Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria

*Correspondence to:; +2348033441539; ORCID ID: 0000-0001-6796-3870



Artemisinin drug resistance is one of the major reasons for malaria treatment failures in the sub-Saharan African countries where artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is the first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria. The occurrence of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) is found to correlate with antimalarial drug resistance. With artemisinin, the SNPs occurs at the Kelch 13-propeller gene locus on chromosome 13. The artemisinin drug resistance surveillance strategy involves continuous monitoring of Kelch 13-propeller biomarker to detect emergence of mutations which could herald drug resistance in the region. In this narrative review paper, we examined existing literature to bridge the knowledge gap and accentuate the importance of routine surveillance for artemisinin resistance in sub-Saharan Africa. We conducted our search on PubMed database and Google Scholar to identify peer-reviewed articles, reports, and abstracts on artemisinin drug resistance using the following keywords; ‘artemisinin drug resistance’, ‘antimalarial drug resistance’, ‘artemisinin-based combination therapy’, ‘Kelch 13-propeller’, ‘K13propeller gene’, and ‘K13 molecular marker’. The review provided pertinent information on artemisinin derivatives, artemisinin-based combination therapy, molecular action of artemisinin, definition of artemisinin resistance, genetic basis of artemisinin drug resistance and discovery of Kelch 13, and the importance of artemisinin resistance surveillance. Molecular surveillance can provide healthcare policy makers a forecast of impending threats to malaria treatment. This is more so when drugs are in combination therapy, for instance, molecular surveillance can give a hint that one drug is failing despite the fact that in combination, it is still apparently clinically effective.

 Keywords: malaria, artemisinin; resistance, molecular marker, Kelch 13-propeller gene

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Artemisinin drug resistance and monitoring: a narrative review