Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine has won a $7.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to lead a malaria research team in Southeast Asia that aims to eradicate the disease.
The CWRU medical school will lead 10 International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research in the project to control malaria and eliminate it worldwide. The project is funded by a seven-year grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. James Kazura, professor of International Health and Medicine at Case Western Reserve University will be principle investigator on the project called Research to Control and Eliminate Malaria in SE Asia and SW Pacific.
The center of excellence at Case Western Reserve will integrate clinical and field approaches with laboratory-based immunologic, molecular and genomic methods to investigate the transmission of malaria in Papua New Guinea, where all four forms of the disease exist.
The goal is to develop sustainable tools to eliminate the disease through safer, more effective drugs and ultimately create a vaccine to stop its transmission. The CWRU center will oversee investigators from Papua New Guinea, Australia, Switzerland, the Solomon Islands and the United States.
Research conducted in Papua New Guinea will build on more than 20 years of work by Kazura and his peers at Case Western Reserve, and Australian and Papua New Guinean institutions. The Solomon Islands researchers are new to the research project.
“This is an unprecedented project and opportunity,” Kazura said in a CWRU release. “The program offers incredible promise by its emphasis on a targeted research approach that involves the use of best practices and similar research protocols across various malaria endemic areas.”
The program is an effort to limit the health burden of malaria and stop its transmission in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Pacific nations where the disease continues to have a major impact on infants, children and pregnant women, he said.
Malaria is one of the world’s Big Three diseases, along with tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. It has been eliminated from many geographies, but 40 percent of the world’s population still is at risk for contracting the disease. Infection by malaria-causing parasites results in about 240 million cases and causes more than 850,000 deaths each year.