How Do You Solve a Problem Like Malaria?

malaria_researcher
Photo courtesy of NIH/NIAID

Malaria affects nearly half of the world’s population, with almost 80% of cases in sub-Saharan Africa and India. While there have been many strides in education and prevention campaigns over the last 30 years, there were over 200 million cases documented in 2017 with over 400,000 deaths, and the majority were young children. Despite being preventable and treatable, malaria continues to thrive in areas that are high risk for transmission. Recently, clinicians started rolling out use of the first approved vaccine, though clinical trials showed it is only about 30% effective. Meanwhile, researchers must continue to focus on innovative efforts to improve diagnostics, treatment and prevention to reduce the burden in these areas.

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Innate Immune Memory in Mosquitoes: The Latest Buzz in the Fight against Malaria

Research on Malaria, World Health Organisation/Institut Pasteur. Female mosquito with body swollen with blood of person she has bitten. It is at this stage that the Malaria parasite is passed to the victim.

For many of us mosquitoes are an itchy aggravation. They come in the evenings in the warmer months. They disrupt hikes, camping trips and picnics, leaving behind itching reminders that have us reaching for antihistamines and no-itch creams. For people in some areas of the world however, mosquitoes are more than just a pest with an itchy calling card, they are a deadly menace. Mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles can carry Plasmodium, the parasitic micro-organism that causes malaria.

According to the World Health Organization, there were an estimated 243 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2008. Most of these cases were in Africa, followed by South-East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean (1). In that year, malaria caused an estimated 863,000 deaths, and tragically, the majority of these deaths were in children younger than five. Continue reading “Innate Immune Memory in Mosquitoes: The Latest Buzz in the Fight against Malaria”