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This has been a busy month in my search for publications about malaria and the parasites that cause it.  Thanks to information from Board members and the expansion of source material, this relatively lengthy report includes several articles from a few months ago, including reference to a lengthy review from the Lancet from last September (see under Prevention). Also, the publication International Research in Public Health has published a series on the epidemiology of malaria over the last several months (listed under Campaigns, lacking a better fit).

Prevention

A 57 page article entitled Malaria Eradication Within a Generation: Ambitious, Achievable, and Necessary in the Lancet on 21 Sep 2019 (pp. 1056-1112) has resulted in multiple comments being published in the same periodical in April 2020.  Both the article, and the comments are available in full, but there are no abstracts.

In Malaria Vaccines: Facing Unknowns, (F1000Res, 2020 Apr 27;9:F1000), Palacpac and Horii conclude that “… likely combinations of effective vaccines that complement each other will be used, and a successful vaccine must be able to induce both humoral and T-cell responses. But the efficacy of each vaccine component needs to be evaluated, or a hit-and-miss approach will entail extensive investment. … A collaborative effort is especially important to be initiated from the scientific community given that primary target groups are those in low- and middle-income countries. Finally, … most available data come from studies of P. falciparum, and studies on P. vivax are also needed to help advance vaccines that will contribute to malaria elimination.”  The entire article is available in the Library.

 

Kariuki and Williams state in Human Genetics 2020 Jun;139(6-7):801-811 (Human Genetics and Malaria Resistance) that “Many individual variants have been identified that are associated with malaria protection, but the most important all relate to the structure or function of red blood cells. They include the classical polymorphisms that cause sickle cell trait, α-thalassaemia, G6PD deficiency, and the major red cell blood group variants. … others have been identified that include the Dantu blood group variant, polymorphisms in the red cell membrane protein ATP2B4, and several variants related to the immune response. Characterising how these genes confer their effects could eventually inform novel therapeutic approaches to combat malaria. Nevertheless, all together, only a small proportion of the heritable component of malaria resistance can be explained by the variants described so far, underscoring its complex genetic architecture and the need for continued research.” The article is available.

PLoS, a publicly available website (2020 Mar 12;15(3):e0229565) published an article by Volkman & al, with a long title: Barriers to Malaria Prevention Among Immigrant Travelers in the United States Who Visit Friends and Relatives in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Cross-Sectional, Multi-Setting Survey of Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices. “Despite achievements in the reduction of malaria globally, imported malaria cases to the United States by returning international travelers continue to increase. Immigrants … from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) who then travel back to their homelands to visit friends and relatives (VFRs) experience a disproportionate burden of malaria illness. … [The authors] conducted a comprehensive … survey to identify differences in malaria prevention knowledge, attitudes, and practices … among VFRs and others traveling to Africa…” The article is available.

 

Diagnosis

Barros Pinto and Marques present images showing a set of hematological findings associated with severe malaria, highlighting the importance of a correct morphological diagnosis. The article in Infection 2020 Feb;48(1):143-146 is entitled Severe Malaria.

Mischlinger et al., Imported Malaria in Countries Where Malaria Is Not Endemic: A Comparison of Semi-immune and Nonimmune Travelers, Clin Microbiol Rev 2020 Mar 11;33(2) e00104-19 states: “Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) and immigrants from malaria-endemic countries now make up the majority of malaria patients in many nonendemic countries… Most studies indicate an effect of naturally acquired immunity in VFRs, leading to differences in the parasitological features, clinical manifestation, and odds for severe malaria and clinical complications between immune VFRs and nonimmune returning travelers.” However, they offer no guidance as to whether or how to approach these individuals differently from anyone else with malaria.

Tim Lewis penned an article in The Guardian entitled Winning by a nose; the dogs being trained to detect COVID-19.  The article makes reference to malaria sniffing dogs as well and directs attention to the website www.malariadetectiondogs.org.uk.  The website claims that the organization has been supported by the Gates Foundation and Durham University, a public educational institution in England.  The site also refers to work done in the Gambia.

Additional articles in StatPerls about other parasites causing malaria include:

Menkin-Smith L, Winders WT, Malaria (Plasmodium vivax), StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing, 2020 Jan.

Zekar L, Sharman T, Malaria (Plasmodium falciparum), StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing, 2020 Apr.

Okafor CN, Finnigan NA,  Malaria (Plasmodium ovale), StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing, 2020 Apr.

 

Treatment

One of our Board members reported on information obtained through Rotary members in Australia that a researcher at Griffith University in Queensland is working on the application of an extract of the tree  Khaya senegalensis to treatment of malaria.  The extract is used in folk medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including malaria, in parts of Africa.  Contacting the researcher, he stated that he had a non-disclosure agreement with the company that is financing the research.  Repeated attempts to obtain information from the head of the company have not resulted in a response, however.

John Babcock of WSU School of Veterinary Medicine reports in A Compound Unlike Any Other (on news.wsu.edu) that Tartrolon E, a byproduct of bacteria that help shipworms digest wood is effective against several human and animal parasites, including Plasmodium falciparum.  The original article by O’Connor et al. in PLoS Pathogens 2000 (May 26) 16(5): e1008600, A Symbiotic Bacterium of Shipworms Produces a Compound with Broad-Spectrum Anti-Apicomplexan Activity, shows the in vitro inhibitory effect of this compound on P. falciparum proliferation in incubated red blood cells to be similar to that of dihydroaretmisinin.  The article is in our Library.

An article in Science (2020 May 15, 368:746-53) by Rijo-Fereira et al., The Malaria Parasite Has an Intrinsic Clock refers to internal clocks (circadian rhythms) of Plasmodium falciparum.  A report on this article by Buehler in Science News (2020 Jun, 197(11):8) speculates that “[f]iguring out how Plasmodium’s clock ticks may lead to ways to disrupt it, potentially adding to the arsenal of treatments for malaria.”  Buehler’s article is available in its entirety.

 

Campaigns

Larsen DA, & al, Leveraging Risk Maps of Malaria Vector Abundance to Guide Control Efforts Reduces Malaria Incidence in Eastern Province, Zambia, Scientific Reports, 2020 June vol.10, Art: 10307.  The authors “compared outcomes in areas receiving different indoor residual spray (IRS) strategies in Eastern Province, Zambia: (1) concentrating IRS interventions within a geographical area, (2) prioritizing communities to receive IRS based on predicted probabilities of Anopheles funestus, and (3) prioritizing communities to receive IRS based on observed malaria incidence at nearby health centers. [They] show that the use of predicted probabilities of An. funestus to guide IRS implementation saw the largest decrease in malaria incidence at health centers, a 13% reduction … compared to concentrating IRS geographically and a 37% reduction … compared to targeting IRS based on health facility incidence. These results suggest that vector control programs could produce better outcomes by prioritizing IRS according to malaria-vector risk maps.”

All of the following articles cited relate to epidemiologic reports, not actual campaigns.  Aside from the first one, they are part of the series by International Research in Public Health.  Each full article is available for review.

Diallo SM & al., Malaria Epidemiology in Kobeni Department, Southeastern Mauritania From 2015 to 2017, Infectious Diseases of Poverty, 2020 Feb 12;9(1):21.

Ouédraogo M & al., Effect of Free Healthcare Policy for Children under Five Years Old on the Incidence of Reported Malaria Cases in Burkina Faso by Bayesian Modelling: “Not only the Ears but also the Head of the Hippopotamus” Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(2), 417.

Ouédraogo M & al., Malaria Case Fatality Rate among Children under Five in Burkina Faso: An Assessment of the Spatiotemporal Trends Following the Implementation of Control Programs, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 1840.

Rouamba T & al., How to Estimate Optimal Malaria Readiness Indicators at Health-District Level: Findings from the Burkina Faso Service Availability and Readiness Assessment (SARA) Data, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 3923.

Segun OE & al., Statistical Modelling of the Effects of Weather Factors on Malaria Occurrence in Abuja, Nigeria Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3474

Cissoko M & al., Geo-Epidemiology of Malaria at the Health Area Level, Dire Health District, Mali, 2013–2017 Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 3982;

Tseroni M & al, The Importance of an Active Case Detection (ACD) Programme for Malaria among Migrants from Malaria Endemic Countries: The Greek Experience in a Receptive and Vulnerable Area, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 4080;

Braack L & al., Malaria Vectors and Vector Surveillance in Limpopo Province (South Africa): 1927 to 2018, Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2020 Jun 9;17(11):E4125.

Dieng  & al, Application of Functional Data Analysis to Identify Patterns of Malaria Incidence, to Guide Targeted Control Strategies, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 4168;

 

Basic Research

Mellin R, & Boddey JA, Organoids for Liver Stage Malaria Research, Trends Parasitol, 2020 Feb;36(2):158-169.   Abstract available.

Dong Y & al., Versatile transgenic multistage effector-gene combinations for Plasmodium falciparum suppression in Anopheles, Science Advances 2020 May 13 vol.6. Abstract available

Carrique L & al, Structure and catalytic regulation of Plasmodium falciparum IMP specific nucleotidase, Nature Communications  2002 (Jul) Vol. 11, Art: 3228.  Abstract and full article available.