John Turnidge, chief of laboratory medicine at Women's and Children's Hospital in North Adelaide, Australia, called the study "fascinating," noting that he has long suspected that the overuse of antibiotics was not the only cause of bacterial resistance. This shows, he says, that certain drugs such as chloroquine (which works by targeting the parasites inside red blood cells) may drive resistance to other classes of drugs such as the antibiotic ciprofloxacin.
Traditionally, scientists have targeted viruses, bacteria and parasites in different ways and assumed that the treatments had little to do with one another. But this finding indicates that one may play off the other when it comes to encouraging resistance in human pathogens.
Christopher Plowe, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, says more study is needed to determine whether health officials should reconsider the widespread use of chloroquine to battle malaria. Researchers plan to test the effect of antimalarials other than chloroquine to determine if they can do as effective a job without also hobbling the power of ciprofloxacin.
Silverman stressed that the study highlights the need to continue to try to prevent malaria through the use of insecticide-treated bed nets, along with the development of an effective vaccine.