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Introduction to Parasitology Unit

. Last Updated: 12 January 2016Hits: 18436

By 1992, the Division of Parasitology and Helminthology was renamed as the Division of Parasitology and was headed by Dr.karen Lai P.F. In 1996, the Division of Malaria and Filariasis was dissolved and all research, diagnostic and training activities in these field were taken over by the Division of Parasitolgy, with Dr Lokman Hakim as its new Head after the premature demise of Dr.Karen.The Division continues to serve as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Lymphatic Filariasis.

Malaria continued to be an important public health problem especially among the aborigines in Peninsular Malaysia and the rural populations in Sabah. Research continues to focus on drug resistance. A multi- centres clinical drug trial (1993/1994) revealed that the proportion of severe resistance ( grade RII and RIII ) to chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), the first line drugs for falciparum malaria, a combination of chloroquine, SP and primaquine be used as first line treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria.

In 1998, the Ministry of Health Malaysia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with WHO/TDR on the transfer of technology in drug development with particular emphasis on antimalarial drug. One of the areas to be strengthened under this programme is the conducting of clinical trials ( Phase II and III ) according to the International Good Clinical Practice ( ICH-GCP ) guidelines. Clinical trials are being carried out in Sabah to evaluate new antimalarial drugs, particulary the artemenisim derivatives. In conjuction with the IMR herbal Medicine Programme, new compounds are actively screened for antimalaria properties for further development.

As most of the malaria cases (70%) were reported in Sabah, research emphasis has been diverted to the state. Previous report indicates that An.balabacensis,the principal vector for malaria breeds in the jungles fringes rendering anti-larval measures impractical. However, a recently concluded study in Ranau, Sabah where malaria was highly endemic, showed the mosquito also breeds in the vicinity of the villages. A pilot study has been carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative method of larviciding using Bacillus thuriengiensis. bacteria that kills mosquito larvae.

In late 1980's, the Division of Malaria and Filariasis then, started to embark on the study pf parasitic diseases using molecular and biotechnological tools. Several clones of monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) were produced against malarial and filarial parasites and DNA probes were tested for detection of filarial parasites in the mosquitoes. In 1993, spearhead by the transfer of technology programme in collaboration with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency ( JICA ), more and more molecular and biotechnological tools were being applied in the study of parasitic diseases. During the 3 years programme, various PCR methods were tested for the diagnosis of malaria and the molecular tools were used to study the parasite and immunoprotection at molecular.

The molecular and bioteechnological tools were also applied to the study of other parasitic diseases. For example, the contoversial issue of Blastocysis hominis as a casual agent of diarrhoea was investigated uisng these tools. Several clones of Mabs were produced against this parasite and some of those clones could only identify the parasite isolated from symptomatic patients while others do not. This support the contention of some researcher who believed the parasite could exist in two forms, pathogenic and non-pathogenic. The characteristics of the so-called pathogenic and non pathogenic stains are being investigated at the molecular level. 





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