SciTech Briefs

Drug made to fight malaria in children

A new low-cost malaria drug has been developed and is aimed at children living in sub-Saharan Africa. Developed by European pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis and non-profit organization Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDI), this is a drug cocktail consisting of two effective pre-existing drugs, artesunate and amodiaquine, but made to be equally effective in smaller, more efficient doses.

Malaria is a highly infectious disease caused by parasites of the genus Plasmodium and transmitted by anopheles mosquitoes. It kills more than three million people every year, with over one million of those casualties being African children.

The logic behind the drug cocktail is that with a combination of two equally powerful drugs, one drug is bound to kill the parasite if the other fails. This also takes care of strains of the parasite that are becoming resistant to individual drugs.

Source: BBC News

Scientists discover fossils of organism

According to the most recent edition of the journal Science, scientists have discovered evidence of the existence of an organism named Orthrozanclus reburrus. Described as having many long curved spines extending from an armored body, it supposedly crawled along the ocean floor over 505 million years ago, during the Cambrian period.

The organism was found in Canada’s Burgess Shale rock formation. The invertebrate’s 11 fossils were pieced together by scientists. It is said to have had no eyes or limbs, and is thought to have crawled along the ocean floor by means of a muscular foot.

The Cambrian period, brought on by the Cambrian explosion, is known for being a period during which many organisms first arose. It was also during this time that many animal forms first appeared in fossil records.

Source: Reuters

Countries to study global warming

This year, backed by the United Nations, over 60 countries will begin scientific investigations of the Arctic and Antarctic in order to determine whether global warming is thawing polar ice caps and causing rising sea levels.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is insisting that visible climate change in the polar areas and the research conducted about it will give researchers critically necessary information about what to expect in terms of impending global warming, and that this information is crucial for all nations, not just those bordering polar regions.

This year, about 50,000 scientists will be conducting projects studying subjects such as marine life, air pollutant patterns in the Arctic, and the health of arctic species such as polar bears and penguins. The concern about arctic temperatures rising twice as fast as those of the rest of the world could mean that sea levels will rise by 18 to 59 centimeters.

Source: Reuters