The KEL1 / PLA1 strain is spread out from Cambodia and is now becoming more common in a region, while the new genetic mutations have evolved and it is being raised to make it even more resistant.
"We discovered that the aggressive had spread, replaced local malaria parasites and became the dominant tribe in Vietnam, Laos and Northeast Thailand," said Roberto Amato, one of the researchers following the study published in The Lancet.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 400,000 people worldwide died in 2017 malaria suites, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease can be cured when it is discovered at an early stage, but resistance to malaria drugs is growing in many parts of the world – especially in Southeast Asia.
The researchers are concerned about how quickly the resistant strain is spread throughout the entire region.
"Other drugs may currently be effective, but the situation is extremely fragile and the study shows that urgent action is needed," said Olivo Miotto of Oxford University.