Gates Malaria Forum
Martin Elmund from Malaria No More, who has also been covering the Gates Malaria Forum, writes today about news regarding “RTS,S, the world’s most clinically advanced malaria vaccine candidate.” Elmund explains:
A joint project between GlaxoSmithKline and the Gates-funded Malaria Vaccine Initiative, RTS,S works in two ways. First, it prepares the defense mechanisms of a person to recognize and respond to the malaria parasite before it encounters the genuine article. Second, it helps t-cells attack the parasite as it emerges from the liver (the first stop in the body where it multiplies some 40,000X) and begins to infiltrate red blood cells.
In 2004, RTS,S was shown to provide greater than 50% protection against infection in children 1-to-4 years old. The new study finds that among children under one, the vaccine provides 65% protection against new infections over three months.
This is significant because children 18 months and younger bear a disproportionate burden from the disease: 30% to 50% of the severe disease and deaths occur in that age group. Until now, it was unknown whether the vaccine could help shield them from malaria.
The Times also picks up on the same story save this nugget, ‘Time and again scientists have been on the brink of success only to have their hopes publicly and painfully dashed. The height of false hope, perhaps, was in 1984 when the NY Times ran the headline “Malaria Vaccine is Near.”’
According to Elmund:
Researchers were so confident they’d cracked the code that they tested the vaccine on themselves just before flying to a conference where they expected to declare victory. They came down with malaria symptoms the morning after they landed.
As I was watching the Gates Malaria Forum‘s “Town Hall” yesterday evening (entire day’s webcast), I was struck by an anecdote told by Brian Greenwood, Professor at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine:
When Sir Ian McGregor was working in the Gambia, of the children who came to the clinic there with malaria, 80% had a positive blood film; 10 years ago it was 40% of those that had clinical malaria had a positive blood film; last year it was 4 percent.
by Amy DiElsi
Melinda Gates, Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, opened the Gates Malaria Forum in Seattle this morning with a call to embrace the effort to eradicate malaria. While many have been cautious to declare full eradication of the disease as the ultimate goal, Melinda urged the scientists, researchers, and advocates in the room to join Gates in this new endeavor in order to limit the human and financial costs and to ensure that we don’t allow the malaria parasite to continue to adapt to new preventions and treatments. Melinda talked about her past trip to Zambia where she met a young girl sick with malaria. The girl and her family were waiting for an ambulance to take her to get the care she needed to survive. She doesn’t know if the young girl made it to the hospital in time. Melinda said, “No child should die of malaria in today’s world.” She added, “Any goal short of eradicating malaria is accepting malaria.” More
In Seattle today, 250 leaders in the malaria space interacted at the first ever Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Malaria Forum. Leadership from vaccine research, drug research, vector control, social mobilization and advocacy were convened by the Gates Foundation to share successes, ideas and frustrations in the road towards a significant reduction in malaria morbidity and mortality. Regina Rabinovich, Director of Infectious Diseases Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, opened the forum with a focus on great opportunity to build on progress and an elusive tool called momentum. The theme of the Forum is Collaboration, Innovation, and Impact. It is certainly innovative to have researchers, scientists, development workers, fundraisers and advocates engaged in the same conversations.
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.