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World Malaria Day 2014

World Malaria Day 2014

In 2012, there were an estimated 207 million cases of malaria and 627,000 deaths caused by malaria worldwide, according to the WHO. While malaria deaths have been greatly reduced in recent years, it is imperative that governments and global health organizations continue investing in malaria research to ensure consistent progress in fighting the disease. Research efforts are currently under way to better understand the Plasmodium parasites which cause malaria and to develop drugs to fight and perhaps one day a vaccine to prevent the disease.

In honor of World Malaria Day, we have compiled a selection of notable developments in malaria research that have occurred over the past year. Click below to skip to a specific section:
        Research on Parasites
        Research on Drugs
        Technological Innovations
        The Spread of Malaria And Ways to Prevent It
        Drug Resistance
        Financing
        Media and Graphics

RESEARCH ON PARASITES:
June 5, 2013:
Research published in the journal Nature shows that malaria parasites growing inside red blood cells stick to the sides of blood vessels by using a large family of parasite proteins known as PfEMP1 and avoid their destruction. [Nature, University of Copenhagen]

July 17, 2013: A team at MIT has produced liver tissue models in which they can grow malaria parasites Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax, potentially providing a foundation for vaccine and drug development and other malaria research. [Science Codex] April 11, 2014: A new infrared spectroscopy method can detect a single malaria parasite at an early life stage in a microliter of red blood cells. [Bloomberg, Chemical & Engineering News]

November 5, 2013: Research in the journal PNAS shows that malaria sperm move more freely than previously thought due to a corkscrew motion that helps them find female mates more easily, thereby making the mating easier for the parasite and aiding in the spread of malaria. [BBC]

November 26, 2013: NIH-funded scientists have discovered a protein in malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites that is inhibited by a new class of antimalarial compounds. The protein, phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase, is essential to all stages of the Plasmodium life cycle. The compounds, known as imidazopyrazines, prevent the parasites from developing. [EurekAlert]

January 2014: CDDEP Senior Fellow Eili Klein shows how heterogeneous transmission and within-host competition affect the spread of antimalarial drug resistance. [CDDEP, NCBI]

February 25, 2014: A study published by University of Pennsylvania researchers shows that the Plasmodium vivax malaria parasite originated in Africa. The parasite was previously believed to have originated in Asia due to the presence of the closest genetic relative of P. vivax in Asian macaques; however, the discovery of African apes infected with parasites identical to human P. vivax has overturned this belief. [Vaccine News Daily]

February 25, 2014: Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK, have discovered a single protein, AP2-G, that is responsible for spreading malaria. The protein is necessary for switching on genes that control the development of precursor malaria cells to the male and female forms of the parasite – the only stage that is infectious to mosquitoes, according to the researchers. Switching off AP2-G prevents malaria cells from growing into sexual-stage parasites a method that could prove very important for controlling the spread of the disease. [The Hindu ]

 

RESEARCH ON DRUGS:
October 9, 2013:
Early human trials of a new malaria vaccine based on a genetically modified version of the parasite have shown it to be effective at low doses. The proof of concept study was published in Vaccine. [SciDev]

October 14, 2013: The clinical trial of RTS,S, a malaria vaccine being developed by the Gates Foundation, PATH, and GlaxoSmithKline, showed that after 18 months of vaccination, the vaccine has reduced the number of cases in young children (five to 17 months old when first vaccinated) by 46% and by 27% in infants (6 weeks to 12 weeks old when first vaccinated). [New York Times, The Economist]

January 25, 2014: A novel approach to eliminating malaria is being implemented in the Comoros. The experiments which are supervised by Dr. Li Guoqiao, one of the researchers who helped develop artemisinin use combination therapy based on artemisinin to target the malaria parasites directly instead of mosquitoes. [The Economist]

March 25, 2014: As the P. falciparum malaria parasite is building resistance to artemisinin, scientists are racing to find an effective replacement drug. [CNN ]

 

TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS:
January 7, 2014:
A new laser-based rapid test for malaria that does not require blood withdrawal will soon be put into clinical trial in humans with malaria symptoms, reports The New York Times. [NYT]

March 10, 2014: Manu Prakash, a Stanford PhD student, has developed an Origami-based paper microscope that costs just 50 cents to make. Prakash said he wanted to make the best possible disease-detection instrument that we could almost distribute for free and hopes his invention will one day be distributed widely to help detect blood-borne diseases such as malaria. [Stanford]

 

THE SPREAD OF MALARIA AND WAYS TO PREVENT IT:
September 3, 2013:
A report from UNICEF estimated that the lives of 90 million children have been saved over the past two decades thanks to global malaria reduction efforts. In spite of this progress, the report also mentions, at the current rate Millennium Development Goal 4 – to reduce child deaths by two thirds by 2015 – will not be met until 2028. [Malaria Consortium]

October 22 2013: Authors of a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health argue that malaria elimination in Alabama in the 1930s was largely due to improved local public health infrastructures and targeted public health interventions. [Infection Control Today]

November 1, 2013: The US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) s surveillance summary of malaria shows that the US had the highest number of reported malaria cases in 2011 since 1971 with 1,925 reported malaria cases. [CDC]

December 2013: A project run by the WHO Malaria Program seeks to reduce deaths in remote rural areas through a community-based training initiative. Through the program, which is run in five African countries, local volunteers are selected and trained to identify and treat malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea, which combined account for 80% of child deaths in these areas. [WHO]

December 11, 2013: The WHO World Malaria Report 2013 showed major progress in the global fight against malaria. [WHO]

March 7, 2014: Research published in the journal Science suggests that global warming will increase the incidence of malaria, especially in tropical highlands, where malaria currently is much less common. The authors, who found that malaria incidence in tropical highlands increases during warmer years and recedes during cooler years, emphasize the need for sustained intervention efforts in these regions, especially in Africa to stop the spread of malaria as the planet warms.  [Time]

 

DRUG RESISTANCE
September 22, 2013:
Researchers report in The Lancet Infectious Diseases two new quick tests, along with the results of their application in Cambodia, that enable quick diagnosis of artemisinin resistance and help pinpoint artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites and map their spread. [NPR, CIDRAP]

November 13, 2013: This article in Nature reviews the history and current challenges of chemoprevention programs for malaria. The article mentions CDDEP director Ramanan Laxminarayan s view that imperfect implementation of these programs could lead to increased drug resistance and more dangerous parasites. [Nature]

January 10, 2014: UK-based start-up QuantuMDx is developing a diagnostic device to detect drug resistance, allowing doctors to prescribe better targeted treatments to malaria patients.  [MedCityNews]

 

FINANCING:
September 12, 2013:
According to a report released by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the agency requires $87 billion USD in 2014-2016 to provide services to all the vulnerable populations in eligible countries and to avoid millions of unnecessary deaths and much higher investments in the future.

December 3, 2013: The Lancet Commission on Investing in Health, of which CDDEP serves as Secretariat, launched its groundbreaking report, Global Health 2035: A world converging within a generation. The report, written by 25 leading health experts and economists, maintains that health disparities between rich and poor nations can be erased within a generation if governments around the globe commit themselves to investing in research and development efforts to find treatments for diseases such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.

January 13, 2014: Increasing federal R&D funding and forming public-private partnerships will be crucial for supporting innovation in science and medicine in the US, Paul Stoffels and Alan I. Leshner argue on Politico. [Politico]

 

MEDIA AND GRAPHICS:
December 13, 2013:
In partnership with the Against Malaria Foundation, Emmy-winning production company Psyop has created a game to raise awareness about malaria. Nightmare: Malaria tracks the spread of the disease as it travels through the bloodstream of a young girl, teaching players about the effects of malaria and providing facts about prevention. [FastCompany]

December 2013/March 2014: Two visualisations from Humanosphere show progress in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and what we know and don t about child mortality in Africa.

March 14, 2013: n his travelling exhibition Malaria: Blood, Sweat and Tears , photographer Adam Nadel explores various aspects of malaria: the history and spread of the disease, its relationship to human populations and the personal lives of those infected. [Slate]