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Last week at MalariaWorld: And the Nobel Prize goes to…

October 21, 2016 - 12:14 -- Ingeborg van Schayk

Artemisinin unraveled
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015 went (partial) to the Chinese Youyou Tu for the discovery of artemisinin as an anti-malarial drug. Pierre Lutgen explains that the Serbs described the use of artemisinin before the Chinese did… Read the blog “Artemisinin first discovered by the Serbs long before the Chinese” here.

Artemisinin, however, is not yet available to all in need. It is very costly to extract and purify the drug from Artemisia annua. A study, published on 20 October in Molecular Plant, now demonstrates that the tobacco plant can be engineered to synthesise artemisinin. Will this become an affordable alternative anti-malaria drug? Read The Molecular Plant article “Compartmentalized Metabolic Engineering for Artemisinin Biosynthesis and Effective Malaria Treatment by Oral Delivery of Plant Cells” here.

Reminder deadline EOI promotion of south-centred collabotations in VBD's
Kindly be reminded that the deadline for the EOI regarding the promotion of south-centred collabotations in vector-borne diseases is approaching  (3rd November). If you are interested to contrube then read the full announcement ‘Promoting south-centred collaborations in vector-borne diseases’ here.

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Promoting south-centred collaborations in vector-borne diseases

October 14, 2016 - 07:00 -- Bart G.J. Knols
The below contribution was submitted to MalariaWorld by Dr. Gerry Killeen
Dear Colleagues,
Please find attached a concept note I have just posted on the extranet discussion board for the following UK-BBSRC funding mechanism to support networks in vector-borne disease (VBD) research:
If the idea of such a research networking platform, which is governed, managed and hosted by institutions in the developing countries most afflicted by VBDs appeals to you, please send an E-mail to , to request registration for their extranet networking web site. Once registered please visit the community discussion board to review this idea and any others you like. To access the attachments for each discussion item, click on the “Properties” icon. Then please reply with comments you feel we should take on board as we develop this idea further, and build towards a full expression of interest (EOI) submission. If you’d like to “like” it or add a “note”, that helps too but note that “tag” insertions are visible only to you.

Tannins in Artemisia: hidden treasure for prophylaxis

October 9, 2016 - 15:53 -- Pierre Lutgen


Proanthocyanidins (condensed tannins) are oligomeric and polymeric products of the flavonoid biosynthetic pathway. They are present in the fruits, bark, leaves and seeds of many plants, wine and teas, and are increasingly recognized as having beneficial effects on human health. They have attracted little interest in malaria research because in vitro they show no significant antimalarial activity.

If malaria funding is so precarious, why not use permanent improvements in southern Africa ?

October 1, 2016 - 15:50 -- William Jobin

Malar J. 2016; 15: 419.
Published online 2016 Aug 18. doi: 10.1186/s12936-016-1470-8
PMCID: PMC4991067
Towards malaria elimination in the MOSASWA (Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland) region
Devanand Moonasar, Rajendra Maharaj, Simon Kunene, Baltazar Candrinho, Francisco Saute, Nyasatu Ntshalintshali, and Natashia Morris corresponding author.

Medigo Infographic - Mortality and causes of death: 2015 and 2030

September 30, 2016 - 09:02 -- Ingeborg van Schayk

This infographic displays data from the World Health Organization’s “Projections of mortality and causes of death, 2015 and 2030”. The report details all deaths in 2015 by cause and makes predictions for 2030, giving an impression of how global health will develop over the next 14 years. Also featured is data from showing how life expectancy will change between now and 2030.
All percentages shown have been calculated relative to projected changes in population growth.


When will we get off drugs and biocides ?

September 19, 2016 - 12:58 -- William Jobin

In a recent article about the spread of resistance to ACT in SE Asia, the authors recommend new drugs and better drug strategies:

'FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2016 Sep 8. pii: fuw037. [Epub ahead of print]
The clinical impact of artemisinin resistance in Southeast Asia and the potential for future spread.
Woodrow CJ1, White NJ2'.

Similarly, multiple resistance of Anopheline vectors is supposedly to be met with more careful selection of insecticides!

In memoriam: Anuj Nathalal Shah (1960-2016)

September 16, 2016 - 09:19 -- Bart G.J. Knols
The article below was contributed by Nick Brown of A-Z Textile Mills Ltd.
Anuj Shah was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the family company A to Z Textile Mills Limited in 1995. Although A to Z had been producing polyester netting for the local market since 1972, the re-start of the previously abandoned attempt to eradicate malaria had only just begun. “Net Gain – A new method for preventing malaria deaths” was only published (by IDRC and WHO) in 1996 and Anuj Shah was there from the very start of this new fight against malaria. Don de Savigny (Swiss TPH) and the late Tim Manchester (PSI) met Anuj in Arusha in 1997 and pointed out there would be a substantial market for high quality, large coloured nets and Anuj accepted the challenge. As Jane Miller, then working at PSI recalls, “Anuj was simply a visionary”.

Artemisia, allelopathy, tannins.

September 16, 2016 - 09:02 -- Pierre Lutgen

Allelopathy related to Artemisia plants has already been described 100 years ago (Bode, H. R. 1939. Über die Blattausscheidungen des Wermuts und ihre Wirkung auf andere Pflanzen. Planta 30:567-589). The work of H Bode was completed a few years later (GL Funke. Blumea - Biodiversity, Evolution and Biogeography of Plants, 1943 5, 281-293). Eighteen species of plants, most of which were chosen at random, were sown beside a hedge of Artemisia absinthium; they were severely injured and in one case even killed by the chemical excretions of the latter within a distance of ± 100 cm.

Bali, Tuberculosis, Diabetes and Artemisia

August 16, 2016 - 06:17 -- Pierre Lutgen

Most of us ignore that on Nov 3, 2015 a Convention was signed in Bali declaring the fight against the looming TB-Diabetes co-epidemic, one of the greatest global health challenges.

An estimated two billion people, or one third of all people worldwide, live with a tuberculosis (TB) infection, of whom 9.6 million people develop active TB disease annually. TB is the leading cause of death worldwide due to a single infectious pathogen, responsible for 1.5 million human deaths in 2014, and 95 percent of human TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Sun, shade or oven drying for Artemisia

August 4, 2016 - 08:41 -- Pierre Lutgen

It has traditionnally been accepted that drying of Artemisia annua should take place in the shade because drying in the sun would destroy many useful molecules. But recent papers have questionned this belief and have studied the effect of ultraviolet radiation on the accumulation or decrease of medicinal compounds in plants (WJ Zhang et al., Fitoterapia, 2009, 80, 207-18). A study in Turkey showed that UV-C radiation had remarkable promoting effects on the accumulation of secondary metabolites in the calli of a grape cultivar (E Cetin, Biological Research, 2014, 47 :37).

Remember to apply for APMEN positions!

July 22, 2016 - 09:50 -- MESA Alliance
Dear colleagues,
Time is running out to apply for an exciting position in the new APMEN office in Singapore.  Applications are closing next week on Friday, 29 July.
We would like to encourage our colleagues within and outside of the Network to apply, and to join us in accelerating malaria elimination in the Asia-Pacific region.
The candidates who secure these positions will have the opportunity to be part of the fast-moving malaria elimination agenda. They will work together with the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) team at the heart of the new regional movement for an Asia-Pacific Free of Malaria by 2030.  With 18 member countries and 37 international institutional partners – and still growing, working with us will expose you to an exciting range of contexts, contacts and opportunities. 
If you think you or someone you know has the skills to lead or contribute to a dynamic partnership of program managers, academic, private sector partners to achieve this important common goal – please apply now via one of the links below:
If you have any questions about these roles, please feel free to contact the APMEN Secretariat at
We would be grateful if you would circulate these opportunities among your networks.
With best regards,
The APMEN Secretariat

Plasmodium is killed by zinc chelators

July 9, 2016 - 07:43 -- Pierre Lutgen

Plasmodium is thriving on iron. One of the first mistakes of Western medicine in Africa was the iron supplementation to the Somali nomads in 1968. Blood analysis of these nomads had shown that according to European standards they were suffering from anemia (MJ Murray et al., Brit Med J. Oct 1978, 1113-1116). But iron administration was associated with a significant increase of the disease it was supposed to suppress and even to reactivation of pre-existing diseases. The conclusion of the authors was that iron deficiency eventually plays a part in suppressing certain infections

PMI and Swiss Cheese

July 6, 2016 - 13:07 -- William Jobin

There is dangerous obstacle - we call it the Immunity Trap - in malaria prevention strategies which is most dangerous for countries which have relied on the ephemeral methods recommended by WHO and used by PMI, but which have not included permanent methods. In the 19 African countries in the US Presidential Malaria Initiative administered by the PMI for the last decade, of the 30 million who have lost their immunity, about half are also no longer protected by house spraying because of the high cost of new biocides.

Artemisia, CYP3A4 and scopoletin.

June 28, 2016 - 16:11 -- Pierre Lutgen

In a pionneering study in 2010, the University of Louvain had studied the anti-inflammatory effect and modulation of cytochrome P450 activities by Artemisia annua tea infusions in human intestinal Caco-2 cells (Melillo de Magalhães P1, et al.,. Food Chem. 2012 Sep 15;134.:864-71). These assays were done on aqueous infusions (3.3/L) of Artemisia annua samples from 7 different origins.

Don't let the US PMI fall into the Immunity Trap

June 27, 2016 - 18:19 -- William Jobin

A decade ago, I helped the US Presidential Malaria Initiative get its start in Angola. Since then the Malaria Initiative (the US PMI) has expanded under Tim Ziemer to 19 African countries, protecting 30 million people. Consequently, over the last decade these 30 million people have lost their immunity to malaria. Now that might seem obvious and maybe a good thing. But since they live in regions where malaria is endemic, it raises a serious issue about durability of the PMI strategy.

The Resistance Treadmill

Guest editorial: “End Malaria for Good”- a few key messages based on the Cambodian experience

June 23, 2016 - 07:27 -- Bart G.J. Knols
The editorial below was contributed by Sara E Canavati and Jack S Richards. Contact details below.
World Malaria Day (WMD) is an international observance established in 2007 and commemorated every year on 25 April to recognize global efforts to control malaria. The theme for 2016 was “End Malaria For Good”, which focused on malaria elimination. Following the great progress made under the Millennium Development Goals, it is important to continue building on this success as we transition into the Sustainable Development Goals [1] and the recently launched Global Technical Strategy for Malaria (GTS) [2]. The aim of the piece is to briefly reflect on WMD 2016 and consider a few key operational issues on malaria elimination that may lie ahead for the coming year.

Message from the newly elected Chair of the RBM Partnership Board

June 17, 2016 - 07:24 -- Ingeborg van Schayk

Dear Partners and Friends,

After a period of extensive consultation, the RBM Board agreed at its 29th Meeting in December 2015 on a new governance architecture. This included the establishment of a reconstituted Partnership Board, which could take advantage of the tremendous skill, energy and effectiveness of its partners and lead the organization into a new era.

Will malaria suppression cause malnutrition?

June 6, 2016 - 12:57 -- William Jobin

The great benefit in saving so many children by suppressing malaria, might have a negative consequence - malnutrition. As more and more children survive, who will feed them? This reflects the classic dilemna enunciated by the Rev. Malthus some centuries ago. He saw it as a race between population growth and growth in food supply - with the food supply losing. Do we face that same dilemma when we suppress malaria? Let us look at some recent data from Africa.

Malaria suppression improves economic productivity

June 6, 2016 - 11:32 -- William Jobin

In a recent Comment - Does malaria cause poverty or vice-versa? Patrick Sampao explored the relation between malaria and poverty. In accord with his opinions, and in agreement with our dear friend Anton Alexander, I posted three comments, based on statistical analyses of the impact of the US Presidential Malaria Initiative. The comments show us some really Good News about suppressing malaria, especially in Africa where the data is robust. Please take a look at the comments. It is kind of heavy reading but I assure you, it is worthwhile.

New report from WHO on malaria elimination

June 5, 2016 - 21:09 -- Bart G.J. Knols
This report, presented on World Malaria Day 2016, focuses on the third goal from the Global Technical Strategy for malaria: 2016-2030: malaria elimination. It offers a brief analysis of recent country-level progress towards elimination and spotlights countries that are poised to reach the finish line in the next  five years.
A number of countries have had remarkable success in controlling malaria, and these achievements are hard-won. But in many respects, the hardest work is yet to come. This WHO report highlights the considerable challenges countries will face in their e orts to drive down malaria cases to zero and to prevent resurgences of this deadly disease.


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