Global Malaria News
In the first continent-wide genomic study of malaria parasites in Africa, scientists have uncovered the genetic features of Plasmodium falciparum parasites that inhabit different regions of the continent, including the genetic factors that confer resistance to anti-malarial drugs. This sheds new light on the way that drug resistance is emerging in different locations and moving by various routes across Africa, putting previous success in controlling malaria at risk.
The first detailed map of individual malaria parasite behavior across each stage of its complicated life cycle has been created by scientists. Researchers used advanced single-cell technology to isolate individual parasites and measure their gene activity. The result is the Malaria Cell Atlas, which gives the highest resolution view of malaria parasite gene expression to date and monitors how individual parasites change as they develop in both the mosquito and human host.
By sequencing virus genomes from infected travelers, analyzing travel patterns and mosquito modeling, researchers unearthed a spike in Zika cases from travelers returning from Cuba during the summer of 2017 that was not captured by local reports.
A short update on activities going on in-country this month.
- In DRC, the registration of 500,000 households in Équateur province is complete and the paper records have been sent to Kinshasa where the household information has been entered into AMF's database by our partner AGAPE. The data was entered by 170 data entry clerks, organised in three shifts, over a three-week period. Photos below. Analysis of the registration data begins this week, with the distribution of 1.5 million nets due to take place in early October. Registration in Sud Ubangi province of 600,000 households will take place at the end of September using electronic devices, and in Haut Katanga of 1.4 million households at the beginning of October.
In Zambia, our partner CHAZ has just finished a round of post-distribution monitoring (PDM) activities in Central province and they are now entering into AMF's database the data collected from approximately 4,000 households. Data from the North-Western province PDM have been entered and show sleeping space coverage of 72%, 14 months post distribution. The next PDM in Western province takes place at the end of August.
In Ghana, our partner World Vision is collecting data for the second PDM in Upper East region. The results of the first PDM in Brong Ahafo region are currently being imported into AMF's database. 3.6 million nets were distributed in 2018.
In Malawi, our partner the Red Cross has started PDM activity in Southern region. Data is being collected using smartphones from 17,000 households. 4.3 million nets were distributed in 2018.
In Guinea, the last wave of the distribution, of 940,000 nets, took place in the prefectures of Siguiri and Kankan. Photos below. Our partner organisation, United Purpose, monitored the distribution at a number of distribution sites which were randomly selected by AMF. Monitoring data was collected on electronic devices providing AMF with real-time access to the information. This completes the distribution of 4.8 million AMF-funded nets. Distribution data for the final wave will be entered into AMF's database by our partner Cabinet Diagnostic in the coming two weeks.
In Uganda, the 24-month PDM is taking place in selected districts in the Western region. PDMs in Uganda are staggered across many different months, as the distribution took place in four waves and monitoring is happening at 6-monthly intervals in randomly selected districts, and at 9-monthly intervals in other randomly selected districts.
In PNG, the rolling distribution of nets continues (year round activity, province by province) and PDM data has been collected in the provinces of Chimbu, Western Highlands and Eastern Highlands. The data is currently being entered into AMF's database for review. In 2019, a total of 1.0 million nets will be distributed.
- In Togo, the 24-month PDM will take place in September. 2.4 million nets were distributed in 2018.
The US each year sees more than 1,500 cases of malaria, and currently there is limited access to an intravenously-administered (IV) drug needed for the more serious cases.
A breakthrough in monkey malaria research could help scientists diagnose and treat a relapsing form of human malaria.
Mosquitoes can harbor thousands of malaria-causing parasites in their bodies, yet while slurping blood from a victim, they transmit just a tiny fraction of them. In an effort to define precisely the location of the parasite bottleneck, scientists say they have discovered that the parasites are stopped by a roadblock along the escape route in the insect's spit glands, a barrier that could potentially serve as a novel target for preventing or reducing malarial infection.
Chemists develop selective agents to combat infectious diseases -- based on the structures of natural products.
Infections such as Chagas disease, African sleeping sickness, and leishmaniasis are caused by a group of microorganisms called kinetoplastids. In a new study, a research team used a non-disease-causing kinetoplastid to investigate how these parasites adhere to their insect hosts' insides. Their findings could help in the development of targeted therapies that prevent insects from transmitting these diseases to humans.
Researchers have used whole genome sequencing to understand copy-number variants (CNVs) in malaria mosquitoes and their role in insecticide resistance.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently developed an Autocidal Gravid Ovitrap (AGP trap) that attracts and captures female mosquitoes looking for a site to lay eggs. Now, researchers report that AGO traps successfully protected people from infection with chikungunya virus (CHIKV) in communities in Puerto Rico.
Genomic surveillance has revealed that malaria resistance to two first-line antimalarial drugs has spread rapidly from Cambodia to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. Researchers discovered that descendants of one multi-drug resistant malaria strain are replacing the local parasites in Vietnam, Laos and northeastern Thailand, and are picking up additional new genetic changes which could further enhance resistance. The study reveals the importance of ongoing genomic surveillance in malaria control strategies.
Researchers have taken significant steps in understanding the way that the anti-malarial drug primaquine (PQ) works, which they hope will lead to the development of new, safer and more effective treatments for malaria.
New research suggests that a better understanding of human behavior at night -- when malaria mosquitoes are biting -- could be key to preventing lingering cases.
A new study describes the way mosquito immune systems fight malaria parasites using various waves of resistance. The study could lay the groundwork for future research to combat the transmission of malaria, which sickens millions of people across the globe every year.
A short update on activities going on in-country this month. We will aim to post a brief update like this each month.
In DRC, the registration of 500,000 households in Équateur province is underway and our partner RHA is in the field carrying out independent monitoring of the registration. The distribution of 1.5 million nets is scheduled for September. A further 1.9 million nets will arrive shortly by ship in DRC for distribution in Sud Ubangi province in October. The production of 8.4 million nets is underway with these nets scheduled for distribution in Haut Lomami, Tanganyika and Haut Katanga provinces in December, January and February.
In Zambia, our partner CHAZ has just finished a round of post-distribution monitoring (PDM) activities in North-Western province and started data entry yesterday so that all records will shortly be in electronic form and ready for independent review by the AMF team. 3.0 million nets were distributed in 2018.
In Ghana, our partner World Vision is carrying out a PDM in Brong Ahafo region. Data is being collected electronically (see photos). 3.6 million nets were distributed in 2018.
In Malawi, we have put in place an agreement with the Red Cross to start PDMs later this month. 4.3 million nets were distributed in 2018.
In Guinea, 940,000 nets are arriving in a second shipment and will be distributed in three weeks, completing the distribution of 4.8 million nets
In Uganda, the 24-month PDM, i.e. monitoring that takes place 24 months after the distribution of nets in the respective districts, is continuing. Sleeping space coverage at 24 months (partial results) is 84%. 12.7 million nets were distributed in 2017/8.
In PNG, the rolling distribution of nets continues (year round activity, province by province) and PDM activity starts this week. In 2019, a total of 1.0 million nets will be distributed.
In Togo, the 18-month PDM was carried out in May using electronic devices and showed a sleeping space coverage of 88%. 2.4 million nets were distributed in 2018.
Most of the 3,000+ mosquito species are opportunistic, but researchers are most interested in the mosquitoes that scientists call 'disease vectors' -- carriers of diseases that plague humans -- some of which have evolved to bite humans almost exclusively. One expert is trying to understand how the brain and genome of these mosquitoes have evolved to make them specialize in humans -- including how they can distinguish us from other mammals so effectively.
Researchers have found a new toxin that selectively targets mosquitoes. This can lead to innovative and environmentally friendly approaches to reduce malaria.
Researchers have identified more than 100 'hijacked' human genes that malaria parasites commandeer to take up residence inside their victim's liver during the silent early stages of infection, before symptoms appear. Before their work only a few such genes were known. The findings could lead to new ways to stop malaria parasites before people get sick and help keep the disease from spreading, via treatments that are less likely to promote resistance.
New high-resolution maps show the global burden of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, the two parasites that cause the majority of malaria cases worldwide.