Monday, December 18, 2000
The biotechnology industry has long ignored troublesome, endemic diseases of developing countries such as malaria. But the ever-increasing number of airline travelers who become infected during trips and the appearance of previously foreign diseases in the U.S. provide a sales opportunity that is making companies pay attention.
Malaria is no longer a threat only to the residents of warm wet equatorial regions where the transmitting Anopheles mosquitoes thrive, but also to travelers from cold non-endemic regions. Drug resistant strains started showing up in the 1980s, and inconsistent use of anti-malarials in rural areas contributes to the problem. The worldwide mortality rate is 1 to 3 million cases annually, with 90 percent of clinical cases occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.