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Artemisinin combination therapy remains effective for the treatment of falciparum malaria. However, Plasmodium falciparum can escape the effects of artemisinin by arresting their growth. The growth-arrested parasites cannot be distinguished from nonviable parasites with standard microscopy techniques due to their morphological similarities. Here, we demonstrated the efficacy of a new laboratory assay that is compatible with the artemisinin susceptibility test. As a result of the differential cell permeabilities of two DNA-binding fluorophores, growth-arrested P. falciparum can be distinguished from parasites killed by artemisinin, since the latter lose cell membrane permeability. This fluorescence-based assay increased the sensitivity and specificity of the ring survival assay in the assessment of artemisinin susceptibility. When combined with a third fluorophore-conjugated anti-human leukocyte antibody, this trio fluorophore assay became more useful in identifying growth-arrested parasites in mock human blood samples. This novel assay is a simple and rapid technique for monitoring artemisinin resistance with greater sensitivity and accuracy compared with morphology-based observations under a light microscope.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci Rep

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Humans, Plasmodium falciparum, Antimalarials, Artemisinins, Malaria, Falciparum, Erythrocytes, Ionophores, Drug Resistance