The research team confirmed resistant parasites in Homalin, Sagaing Region located only 25 kms from the Indian border. If drug resistance spreads from Asia to the African sub-continent, or emerges in Africa independently, millions of lives will be at risk, the researchers added.

"We are facing the imminent threat of resistance spreading into India, with thousands of lives at risk," explained professor Mike Turner, head of infection & immunobiology at Britain-based Wellcome Trust.

The researchers examined whether parasite samples collected at 55 malaria treatment centres across Myanmar carried mutations in specific regions of the parasite's kelch gene (K13) - a known genetic marker of artemisinin drug resistance.The team obtained the DNA sequences of 940 samples of malaria infections (known as Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites) from across Myanmar and neighbouring border regions in Thailand and Bangladesh between 2013 and 2014.

The maps suggest that the overall prevalence of K13 mutations was greater than ten percent in large areas of the East and North of Myanmar, including areas close to the border with India.

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