Caused by a parasite of the genus Plasmodium, malaria is transmitted to humans through bites from the female Anopheles mosquito.
World Malaria Day is held every year on 25 April and the theme for this year will be: “End Malaria For Good”. Advances in the prevention and treatment of malaria have led to a considerable reduction in the number of cases and deaths related to the disease. The mortality rate due to the disease has fallen by 60% in the last fifteen years.
Currently, about 3.2 billion people worldwide are at risk of contracting the disease. There is an active research effort to combat this major public health issue.
Work done by Stéphanie Blandin and her team at Inserm Unit 963 “Immune Responses in the Malaria Vector Anopheles gambiae”, deal with genetics and transgenesis in this mosquito. They are seeking to understand how mosquitoes said to be “resistant” defend themselves from parasites, and to exploit this natural response to help control transmission of the disease. Researchers have also developed tools that manipulate the mosquito genome and modify genes using the CRISPR-Cas9 and gene drive methods.
Research carried out by Françoise Benoit-Vical and his team is focused on understanding the resistance mechanisms developed by Plasmodium falciparum to artemisinin, the base compound for antimalarial treatment, and researching new antimalarial drugs. They have recently shown that parasites who survive in vitro in the presence of artemisinin for 5 years develop a widespread resistance to most other antimalarial drugs, yet this new resistance cannot be detected by current tests.
As part of the PRIMALVAC project, the team led by Benoit Gamain, Inserm Unit 1134, “Integrated Biology of Red Blood Cell”, is currently developing a candidate vaccine to protect women from gestational malaria before their first pregnancy. The safety and tolerance of the vaccine will soon be assessed during a phase 1 clinical trial at the Cochin-Pasteur Clinical Investigation Center (CIC), then at the National Center for Research and Training on Malaria in Burkina Faso.
 Source: WHO
 The PRIMALVAC project is coordinated by European Vaccine Initiative (EVI), and has received financial support from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Inserm, the French National Institute of Blood Transfusion (INTS), and from Irish Aid via EVI.
See our last news items on the theme:
Malaria: multi-drug resistance more alarming than ever – September 2015
One in every two people bring back multi-resistant enterobacteria after a trip in a tropical zone – July 2015
Viagra to prevent transmission of the malaria parasite? – May 2015
Action on malaria: 16 new mosquito genomes sequenced – November 2014