MALACTRES carries out research to combat the spread of resistance to anti-malarial drugs. Cheap medication against malaria, like chloroquine, has become ineffective due to the fact that the malaria parasite has become resistant to these drugs. Many African countries are now replacing these drugs by the more expensive, but effective ACTs. The world risks losing its most potent treatment for malaria, unless steps are quickly taken to prevent the development and spread of drug resistant parasites.
The MALACTRES project is designed to perform translational research to confront major threats to public health, in particular malaria. The work aims to develop fast tests for the diagnosis of malaria in general and to identify the presence of resistant parasite strains (i.e. Plasmodium falciparum). The overall objective of the project is to assess specific genetic markers for Artemisinin-based combination treatment (ACT) resistance and the development of innovative, rapid and simple diagnostics.
The specific objectives of this proposal are:
- To develop and evaluate in disease endemic countries accurate low-tech molecular diagnostic tests for malaria, and evaluate their utility for detecting treatment failure in antimalarial therapy trials.
- To identify alleles of candidate resistance genes associated with increased transmission success of P. falciparum after ACT treatment in completed clinical trials with endpoints at the gametocyte or infected mosquito level.
- To conduct ACT treatment trials with transmission endpoints, and measure the impact of resistance-associated alleles of key genes on:
- gametocyte prevalence, density and longevity;
- infectiousness of gametocyte-positive treated individuals to mosquitoes;
- infectiousness of randomly-selected treated individuals to mosquitoes.
- To conduct ACT treatment trials with parasitological and clinical efficacy endpoints, including in vitro and in vivo resistant determination test, and measure the abundance of parasites carrying candidate markers among participants with treatment failure
- To develop new low-tech diagnostic tools that are able to demonstrate the presence of mutations conferring drug resistance in the Plasmodium population.
- To investigate commercial value aspects of the developed tests.
- To investigate patent application for the developed tests.