Your MACEPA Malaria Minute: Of mice and malaria

By Stacey Naggiar
Advocacy and Communications Officer, MACEPA, and Global Health Corps Fellow

In the lab

Coming to a MACEPA YouTube page near you: a look inside the lab at the National Malaria Elimination Centre in Lusaka, Zambia. MACEPA spent a day filming at the impressive facility and learned a lot about how blood samples, amplifying DNA, and genotyping can help achieve targets set out in the elimination agenda. We look forward to sharing it with you soon!

In the news

A new study in BMJ Global Health estimated the money that would be required to hit the targets for malaria control and elimination set out in the Global Technical Strategy. Using mathematical models they found that by 2030, $8.7 billion annually would be required, the equivalent of an annual investment of $4.40 per person at risk of malaria, up from the current $2.30. 

A study in mice finds that being infected with malaria may cause bones to become weak, meaning if the results hold true in humans it may explain why children with malaria experience stunted growth. One upside, the Japanese researchers used a derivative of vitamin D to see if it could protect against bone loss, and it worked. (via ScienceMag)

The WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network supported a study that found a large and growing market for malaria medicines that are not quality assured, meaning they haven’t been approved by global health organizations. The study, conducted in eight sub-Saharan African countries, included 29 malaria medicine surveys and audited more than 330,000 malaria treatments between 2009 and 2015. The researchers also found an increasing amount of these non-quality assured treatments are accessed through the private sector. (via EurekAlert)

Researchers in the UK have developed a molecule that may become the first one-dose, fully synthetic treatment for malaria. Studies in the lab found the molecule was effective against malaria parasites with resistance to artemisinin. The researchers say the drug meets the requirements outlined by Medicines for Malaria Venture. (via ScienceDaily

The Open Philanthropy Project has given $17.5 million to a project called Target Malaria that is working in three African countries with the aim of controlling populations of female mosquitoes to combat malaria. (via Imperial College London

In an annual letter from Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and philanthropist appealed to global health funders to reprioritize noncommunicable diseases like heart disease and cancer while maintaining the work being done for infectious diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS. Bloomberg says more money should be spent on prevention such as reducing smoking and obesity and that these efforts will ultimately save more lives. (via Inside Philanthropy)

What do tobacco and malaria have in common? More than you might think. In fact, the tobacco plant has been proven to be useful for producing anti-malarial medicine. When modified genes are inserted into the tobacco plant, the crop can produce a high yield of antimalarial compounds at a low cost. On Malaria Matters, Bill Brieger says, “This may be a good time to switch the production of tobacco [in Africa] from purveyor of cancer and NCDs to a ‘factory’ for producing malaria medicines.” 

The World Health Organization has announced that Swaziland has the potential to eliminate malaria by the year 2020. “… the country was found to be in a historical position to be a pioneer in malaria elimination is Sub Saharan Africa,” a press release said. Strong reporting systems, vector control, regular health worker trainings, and intensive mass media campaigns have all contributed to the country’s success.

GAMBOOST. It’s a model that uses weather data from satellite images to predict malaria outbreaks up to a month in advance. Researchers from Sweden describe the model in a new study and argue that using the model could help public health officials “get ahead of the malaria infection curve.” (via EurekAlert)

RTS,S isn’t the only malaria vaccine in the works. PATH has also joined forces with institutions in the Netherlands and Portugal on a vaccine candidate made from a genetically modified malaria parasite. The trial will begin with 18 healthy adults in the Netherlands. (via FiercePharma)

Je m’engage

A community champion in Senegal. Photo Courtesy of Mamadou Bismoy.

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