Melbourne scientists part of Gates Foundation US $21 million hunt for malaria therapy

Scientists at the The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) are part of international teams that have won some of the world's largest grants to develop treatment for malaria.

The scientists will use technology developed at the WEHI to genetically manipulate the malaria parasite: a crucial step in the creation of a vaccine. These genetically altered parasites, once created, will be tested on volunteers from the US Army to determine whether they boost their immune responses to the malaria parasite.

This will be the first time that an altered version of the malaria parasite will be used to stimulate immunity against the disease. The aim is to boost the immune system in a similar way to how the altered polio bacteria triggers immunity against polio. Such information will assist in the eventual development of the world's first malaria vaccine.

The announcement of the research and grant was made at the start of the first Conference of the ARC/NH&MRC Network for Parasitology, held at WEHI on 7 and 8 July. The Network is a national approach to developing technologies and research collaborations regarding issues such as bio-security and the development of therapies and vaccines for major parasitic diseases.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has been selected for grant offers of US$21 million for two prestigious Grand Challenges in Global Health projects. Set up by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Grand Challenges projects are designed to achieve scientific breakthroughs against diseases that kill millions of people each year in the world's poorest countries.

The funding offered to WEHI and other groups internationally will be focused on developing vaccines to prevent malaria, one of the world's most devastating infectious diseases. Malaria kills up to 3 million people each year and destroys through premature death and disability the equivalent of at least 35 million years of healthy, productive hum

Contact: Brad Allen
Research Australia

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