Malaria control in Southeast Asia faces a number of serious challenges that require coordinated and focused efforts. The uneven distribution of malaria incidences and limited resources call for the development of adaptable and cost-effective control strategies. Knowledge gaps in malaria epidemiology, vector biology and parasite genetics hinder the development of effective control measures. Emerging resistance of parasites to artemisinins and circulation of counterfeit/substandard artemisinin drugs that threaten regional and global malaria control campaigns demand close monitoring, and development of adequate countermeasures. To address these challenges, this ICEMR program brings together outstanding institutions in the U.S., Thailand, Myanmar and China, where internationally recognized investigators have a history of collaborations in malaria research and training. In strategically selected study sites of Myanmar, China, and Thailand that target the most impoverished areas in this region, this consortium will study urgent scientific questions important to this neglected region that are also pertinent to global malaria control. This program has three cores (administrative, data management, and molecular biology) and four scientific projects. Project 1 "Malaria epidemiology in Southeast Asia: Intra- and inter-country dynamics" will develop an accurate measurement of heterogeneity of the disease burden, and provide essential epidemiological information for developing and evaluating integrated malaria control strategies in multiple sites with varying epidemiological conditions. Project 2 "The malaria vectorial system and new vector control tools in Southeast Asia" aims to understand the ecology of malaria vectors in this region and develop innovative malaria transmission surveillance and control tools. Project 3 "Antimalarial drug resistance in P. falciparum" aims to elucidate the mechanism of artemisinin resistance using a high-throughput, genome-wide analytic tool and parasite populations from areas where artemisinin resistance is emerging. Project 4 "Development of monoclonal antibody-based assays for detection and quantification of artemisinin derivatives" will develop antibody based methods for quantification of artemisinins under field conditions for monitoring drug quality.
Southeast Asia accounts for 30% of the global malaria morbidity and 8% of the global mortality. We propose to build an international malaria center in this region that brings together diverse expertise from outstanding institutions of the US, China, and Thailand to address urgent problems that are relevant to both regional and global maiaria control.
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