FAQ's: What Are Some of the Latest Advances in Malaria Research?

  • What's New in the Research World? One of the most important recent advances in malaria research is the mapping of the Plasmodium falciparum genome. This is a project that involves scientists from several different institutions in collaboration. More details may be found here.
  • What About Vector Biology and Control? Some of the most interesting recent vector biology and control research uses Geographic Information Systems [GIS] and Global Positioning System [GPS] data to analyze distribution and abundance of malaria vectors. This data can be used at both local and national levels to target malaria vector control efforts appropriately and utilize resources effectively.
  • What About a Vaccine? A malaria vaccine is the 'Holy Grail' of medicine. Although trials are being conducted of a few different formulations of potential malaria vaccines, none have yet proven to be both safe and effective. Existing vaccines are against viral and bacterial diseases. Because malaria is caused by a protozoan, there are some difficulties in developing an effective malaria vaccine. The immune response to malaria is somewhat different than the immune response to viral diseases such as chickenpox. Immunity to malaria is only partial, whereas immunity to some viral and bacterial diseases is complete. This presents difficulties in vaccine development.
  • So What Now? For the next five to ten years, until an effective vaccine is developed, malaria control will largely be dependent on vector control measures such as improvements in housing construction, source reduction, impregnated bednets, and residual insecticide treatment.

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