South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
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Press Release

7 November 2017

Collaboration underscores malaria agenda

Cape Town | The 3rd Southern Africa Malaria Conference aimed at influencing an agenda to end malaria for good will get underway in Gauteng this week.  The conference will see a convergence of delegates from 7 – 9 November 2017 presenting leading research under the theme: Malaria elimination in Southern Africa: Priorities and challenges.

“Residual and existing malaria challenges are at the heart of our response strategy aimed at eradicating malaria,” says Professor Rajendra Maharaj, Director for the MRC Office of Malaria Research (MOMR).  “Our communities have embraced our current response strategies and we have, as a research community, observed a trajectory of progress in realising our goals”.

Malaria prevention strategies have worked well across sub-Saharan Africa as a greater share of the population is now sleeping under insecticide-treated nets. In 2015, an estimated 53% of the population at risk slept under a treated net compared to a lower 30% in 2010. On a global scale, new malaria cases fell by 21% between 2010 and 2015 while malaria death rates fell by 29% in the same 5-year period.

The SAMRC’s research and development impetus focuses on the transmission of malaria as well as treatment and innovative prevention strategies.  The strategies are designed around investigating the drivers of residual malaria transmission in order to refine the current interventions and ultimately achieve zero local transmission of the disease.  Collaboration at all three tiers of government will cement efforts to influence effective policy change.

“Collaboration is quintessential, particularly on the road to the discovery of new drugs and insecticides to prevent and cure malaria”, says Professor Maharaj. “We are working with local and international partners to evaluate combinations of new ingredients that can be used as adulticidal insecticides and we are developing hygroscopic compounds to control mosquito larvae.”

To date, the SAMRC has collaborated with Japanese chemical engineering company Sumitomo Chemical to evaluate a new active ingredient for the use in indoor residual spray programmes to control the transmission of malaria by adult vector mosquitoes. South African and Japanese scientists, in efforts to enhance the malaria prevention agenda, have further joined forces to develop a climate based model that will forecast the long term malaria and diarrhoeal disease epidemics in the region. Antimalarial compounds are being developed to act against all stages of the malaria parasite life-cycle and have the potential to block the transmission of the parasite from person to person, possibly leading to malaria elimination.

PROJECTS

Field Evaluation of a new active ingredient developed by Sumitomo (Japan) for the use in indoor residual spray programmes to control the adult vector mosquitoes transmitting malaria.

Field evaluation of a new combination of active ingredients used in an adulticidal insecticide developed by Bayer (Germany).

A climate based model to develop long term forecasting of malaria and diarrhoeal disease epidemics. A collaboration between South African and Japanese scientists.

The development of a hygroscopic compound for the control of mosquito larvae. The compound interrupts surface tension and prevents mosquito larvae from breathing. This would be an environmentally safe method of vector control.

An investigation of the bionomics of malaria in an attempt to understand the drivers of malaria transmission in very low transmission settings. Project will provide information for other technologies such as the sterile insect technique.

Although the prevention and control of malaria lies at the heart of the malaria elimination agenda, the treatment of the disease is just as pivotal. The SAMRC’s Drug Discovery and Development Research Unit (DDRU), together with science and technology company Merck, is co-developing a new platform that will identify new lead programmes for potential treatments against malaria. The DDRU has also joined forces with Celgene Global Health (CGH) to develop the next generation of medicines for patients with malaria.

PROJECTS

DESCRIPTION

MMV Project

The MMV project is a collaboration led by the UCT Drug Discovery and Development Centre, H3D and involves the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). The project established a novel antimalarial compound from the aminopyridine class, MMV390048, which has potent activity against all stages of the malaria parasite life-cycle and has the potential to block transmission of the parasite from person to person and, as such, could contribute to the eradication of malaria.

Merck Project

Merck, a leading science and technology company, and H3D signed a research agreement in November 2015, to co-develop a new R&D platform with the aim of identifying new lead programs for potential treatments against malaria, with further potential to expand into other tropical diseases.

Celgene Project

H3D and Celgene Global Health (CGH) have joined efforts to identify and to develop next-generation life-enhancing medicines for patients with malaria or tuberculosis (TB).  The main goal of this joint drug discovery programme is to identify novel drugs for the treatment of malaria and TB.
Under the collaborative agreement, Celgene provides H3D with compounds that target the Global Health diseases, and H3D scientists optimise these compounds to deliver pre-clinical candidates suitable for testing in humans. The work is funded by a grant from Celgene.

MOMR is a national and regional resource centre and world class insectary that provides research material to students and training opportunities to entomological technicians in the SADC region. This vigorous investment, by the SAMRC’s MOMR, in malaria prevention and in novel tools will propel affected countries along the path to elimination while also contributing to other Sustainable Development Goals.

NOTE TO THE EDITOR:
For more information visit: www.malariaconference.mrc.ac.za

Media Relations:
Keletso Ratsela
Media Strategist
Mobile : +27 71 214 5272
Email: keletso.ratsela@mrc.ac.za
 
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Last updated:
15 November, 2017
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