Initial research from AAMI first discovered the dormancy phenomenon, where malaria parasites were observed to arrest their development after a short exposure to artemisinin derivatives and resume growth several days later. The dormant parasites were thought to be metabolically quiescent and not susceptible to antimalarial drugs , but recent work demonstrates that these dormant parasites are metabolically active although they have stopped growing and dividing.
The recrudescence of these “sleeping beauties” highlights an important biological phenomenon allowing parasites to survive drug pressure, and new avenues to interrupt dormancy recovery. These findings will help to reduce failure rates and increase efficacy of ART treatment.
"Artemisinin-induced dormancy enhances the survival of parasites following artemisinin treatment and is likely the mechanism for high rate of recrudescence observed prior to the emergence of artemisnin resistance," Dr Cheng said.
"Dormancy should also enhance the potential of parasites developing resistance to artemisnin drugs. More studies on this important phenomenon are underway."
The full pdf version of this paper, Fatty acid synthesis and pyruvate metabolism pathways remain active in dihydroartemisinin induced dormant ring stages of Plasmodium falciparum, can be viewed/downloaded here.