The landmark 1st Malaria World Congress 2018 (MWC2018) raised awareness internationally about the huge global challenges to eliminate this devastating disease. Find out more. Burnet’s malaria researchers and Congress Founder, Professor Brendan Crabb AC played a key role.
Every two minutes a child dies from malaria. Imagine the devastating impact this has on families and their communities.
Malaria is an acute febrile illness caused by different species: Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae and P. knowlesi. Falciparum causes the majority of malaria disease globally but P. vivax is a second important cause of malaria and causes a high burden of disease in the Asia-Pacific region. A parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes causes malaria. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver, then infect red blood cells, and if not promptly treated, may lead to death.
Despite a major reduction globally in malaria-related mortality rates through prevention and treatment efforts, more than 430,000 people – mainly young children – are still dying each year from this preventable disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 90 countries are impacted by malaria, many in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia’s and the global response towards eliminating malaria requires a dual approach of preventing infections and stopping malaria-related deaths.
Burnet Institute is committed to making a major contribution in efforts to eliminate malaria as a public health threat, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. We work with partners in Australia and internationally, especially in malaria-endemic regions in the
Pacific, Southeast Asia and East Africa (including Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Kenya, and Cambodia). We also collaborate with industry partners in development of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.
Burnet’s latest discoveries and innovative approaches
- Discovering new insights into how drug resistance may emerge in populations and how to better quantify and monitor its spread.
- Identified new antimalarial compounds with potential for
development into drugs.
- Identified immune responses that protect against malaria and new approaches for vaccine development.
- Developing new low-cost diagnostic tests to guide the treatment of malaria.
- Developing novel tools to enhance surveillance and tracking of malaria in populations.
- In affected communities created strategies to address gaps in health services and coverage to improve diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Drug and insecticide resistance
According to the WHO, antimalarial drug resistance is a major concern for the global effort to control malaria. P. falciparum resistance to artemisinins has been detected in four countries in Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. There is an urgent need to expand containment efforts in affected countries.
For now, ACTs remain highly effective in almost all settings, so long as the partner drug in the combination is locally effective.
Burnet’s Eliminate Malaria program:
Burnet’s Key Strategies:
- Antibody engineering to study responses mediating protective immunity
This project will involve engineering antibodies against malaria parasite proteins.
- APPRISE - Centre for Research Excellence
The Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Diseases Emergencies (APPRISE).
- Broadly neutralising anti-HIV antibodies and Fc Receptor function
Defining the properties of anti-HIV antibodies for vaccine development and protection of pregnant women.
- Clinical studies on malaria
The negative consequences of malaria and how to prevent them in children and pregnant women.
- Decision science using Optima
Research and applications across disease areas to improve allocative efficiency.
- Developing new antimalarial drugs that block protein trafficking
Developing new antimalarial drugs that block protein trafficking and host cell modification.
- Developing vaccines against malaria
This project aims to identify key antigens and specific epitopes that are targets of protective immunity.
- Discovering the mechanisms and targets of immunity against malaria
Identifying the key targets of protective immunity in people who live in malaria-endemic regions.
- Evaluating a highly sensitive rapid malaria diagnostic in PNG
HS-RDT MiP in PNG: Testing performance of a novel high sensitivity rapid diagnostic malaria test in pregnant women.
- Evaluation of Malaria Case-Based Reporting using a mobile phone application in Myanmar
Evaluating the effectiveness of a mobile phone-based application to improve the reporting and surveillance of malaria in Myanmar
- Evidence and action for malaria elimination in Myanmar
Engaging public, private, military and civilian partners for targeted malaria elimination testing in Myanmar.
- Functional antibody responses to malaria vaccine candidates
Understanding how functional immunity develops to potential malaria vaccine candidates.
- Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies
A collaborative research program aimed at providing life-saving health care for women and children in PNG.
- HMHB - Health Services for Postnatal and Infancy Care
Focuses on services during postnatal period and through the first 12 months in East New Britain, PNG.
- HMHB: The impact of nutrition, malaria and STIs on pregnant women and infants
Determining the major preventable causes of poor maternal health and low birth weight of babies in PNG.
- Host and parasite factors that predict Artemisinin Resistance reservoirs
Understanding how population immunity seeds transmission of malaria infectious reservoirs, including drug resistant parasites
- Host red blood cell modification sustains the virulence of malaria parasites
Understanding how malaria parasites modify their human host cells to inform new antimalarials.
- IgG subclasses and immunity to malaria
This project focuses on the importance of antibody subclass for immunity malaria.
- Immunity to malaria and infectious diseases during pregnancy
How are pregnant women affected by infectious diseases such as malaria?
- Immunity, drug efficacy and spread of antimalarial drug resistance
Identifying immune biomarkers to predict antimalarial efficacy is essential.
- Impact of declining transmission on immunity and risk of malaria rebound
As malaria transmission falls, it is critical to understand how changing immunity affects risk of malaria.
- Iron deficiency anaemia and adverse birth outcomes in a malaria-endemic region of Papua New Guinea
What is the prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia, how is it associated with adverse birth outcomes, and is the association modified by malaria?
- Major advances in understanding malaria immunity and biology
Identifying key targets of immunity, the mechanisms mediating immunity, and how it is acquired.
- Malaria Vaccine Delivery Platforms
This project is looking at the development of a blood stage vaccine against the Plasmodium falciparum species of malaria.
- Mechanism of antimalarial drug action
Understanding how blood-stage replication of Plasmodium could be targeted by vaccines and novel drugs.
- Molecular diagnostics for malaria elimination
This project involves the Richards Laboratory, Malaria and Tropical Diseases Group
- New treatments for malaria
In response to the need for new anti-malarial drugs to combat drug resistance, identifying and developing novel compounds that inhibit replication of Plasmodium parasites is required.Full details to follow
- Optimal community-delivered malaria elimination models for the Greater Mekong Sub-region
Developing an elimination model that is acceptable, operational, and cost-effective across GMS countries
- Paralysing malaria parasites
By understanding how parasites gain entry to human cells we can develop drugs that block and then paralyse the parasites so they can do no more harm.
- Serological surveillance to identify mosquito exposure and malaria transmission
Identifying and understanding “hot spots” and “hot pops” of malaria transmission are crucial to target interventions for elimination.
- Vaccines against Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum malaria
This involves identifying and prioritising candidate antigens for vaccine development.