Burnet researchers are this week off to the International Congress for Tropical Medicine and Malaria (ICTMM) in Brisbane, to discuss malaria resistance, diagnostics and immunity.
Artemisinin is the cornerstone of treatment for malaria but in southeast Asia parasites are increasingly growing resistant to this combination therapy.
Burnet is undertaking groundbreaking research into how drug resistance emerges and spreads in Asia with findings to be presented at this week’s ICTMM.
Associate Professor Freya Fowkes said resistance to artemisinin threatened to undermine the last treatment for falciparum malaria, with no immediate new drugs in the pipeline to replace the drug, and “potentially devastating” consequences.
“Artemisinin resistance is now widespread in the Greater Mekong Subregion but is yet to emerge in Africa,” Associate Professor Fowkes, Head of Burnet’s Malaria and Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group, said.
“Parasites become resistant through mutation. With 337 million people estimated in 2014 to be dependent on artemisinin for malaria treatment, resistance is a very serious threat to worldwide malaria control and elimination efforts.”
The conference is an opportunity for delegates to network and share knowledge in the areas of tropical medicine, malaria, parasitology, infectious diseases, zoonoses, veterinary health, travel medicine and more.
Burnet leading researchers also attending include Professor James Beeson, Dr Paul Gilson, Dr Jack Richards, Dr Herbert Opi, Dr Win Han Oo, Sarah Jarvis, Xi Zen Yap and Dr Kerryn Moore.
Professor James Beeson will speak on defining key targets and mechanisms of acquired humoral immunity to malaria, while Associate Professor Fowkes will speak on immunity to malaria and emerging artemisinin resistance.
Dr Gilson will speak on identification of novel new permeation pathway inhibitors in the blood stage of plasmodium falciparum, while Dr Win Han Oo, coming from Burnet’s Myanmar office to attend the conference, will speak on the use of rapid diagnostic rests and serology to describe malaria transmission in southeast Myanmar.
Dr Jack Richards will speak on development of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency tests for safe curative treatment of plasmodium vivax hypnozoites.
Dr Herbert Opi’s presentation will focus on women living in malaria-endemic areas and how those with first pregnancies are more likely to get infected with malaria than their non-pregnant counterparts. With subsequent pregnancies, however, women develop immunity and Dr Opi’s work will look at the role of antibodies in explaining this natural protection, and how this information can feed into efforts to develop a vaccine against malaria in pregnancy.
The conference program will include international plenary speakers, oral presentations, posters, exhibition and social events. Read more here.