A Chinese researcher will test a radical new strategy designed to wipe out malaria on a small African island, the International Herald Tribune reports. Mass treatment with a highly effective antimalarial drug would virtually clear the parasite from patients' blood, but critics fear the plan could backfire, causing drug resistance to develop and and eliminating the best treatment option.
The drug, artemisinin, is the only one effective against all strains of malaria and all stages of the parasite. The Chinese government will foot the bill for the experiment, to be performed on Moheli, part of the Indian Ocean nation of Comoros. More than half of the island's population contracts malaria annually, so participation rates are expected to be high.