In spite of recent reductions in transmission, malaria continues to kill
over half a million people annually. To assist in fighting the global
burden of malaria, Kenya-based Oxford research team, the Malaria Public
Health Department (MPHD) has spent the past decade analysing malaria risk,
interventions, and control methods, to better define and target malaria.
This research has been used to inform local governments, the World Health
Organization (WHO), and international funding organisations about malaria
risk, interventions and control methods to better define and target
Research in West Africa by LSHTM and partners has shown that monthly
treatment with effective antimalarial drugs during the rainy season
provides children with a very high degree of personal protection against
malaria, can be delivered on a large scale by community health workers at
moderate cost, and with no serious side-effects. Based on this research,
WHO now recommends that children living in Sahel areas where malaria is a
major problem should receive such `seasonal malaria chemoprevention' (SMC)
with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine plus amodiaquine. Ten countries have
incorporated SMC into their strategic plans for malaria control.
The University of Oxford's Professor Nick White and his colleagues
successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of artemisinin (an ancient
Chinese remedy) in the treatment of malaria. They also pioneered
artemisinin-combination therapy (ACT), the most effective and fast-acting
malaria treatment in the world. Responsible for saving hundreds of
thousands of lives every year, ACT was recommended by the World Health
Organization (WHO) in 2006 as the primary method of malarial treatment
globally. Malaria kills more than half a million and affects over 225
million people every year.
Impact on health and welfare: The malaria screening assay allows
early re-admittance of malaria-risk donors to blood donation programmes
whilst maintaining protection against transfusion-transmitted malaria.
Increasing the availability of safe blood for donation through use of the
malaria assay saves lives.
Impact on commerce: The malaria EIA is the front-line assay in at
least ten countries today. Almost 2.5 million tests have been sold in the
REF impact census period through a number of distributors, including
Bio-Rad worldwide, [text removed for publication].
Beneficiaries: Individuals requiring blood transfusions, national
blood transfusion services and hospitals; commercial companies marketing
the malaria EIA.
Significance and Reach: Over 700,000 assays are now performed per
year in the UK, France, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, New
Zealand and Australia. In the UK alone, more than 345,000 blood donations
from malaria-risk donors have been cleared for clinical use.
Attribution: All research was led by Dr Jana McBride, Dr David
Cavanagh, and Eleanor Riley, at the University of Edinburgh (UoE), except
output  which was an international consortium to which UoE contributed
recombinant malaria antigens and technical expertise.
Researchers at the Mahidol-Oxford Research Unit (MORU) in Thailand
performed the first comparative trials to unambiguously show artemisinin
resistance in Plasmodium falciparum parasites in western Cambodia,
as well as its emergence on the Thailand-Myanmar border. These studies
emphasised the importance of urgent containment, leading to rapid
responses from the World Health Organization (WHO) and international
governments for the tracking and containment of drug-resistant malaria.
Innovative research into the spatial ecology of vector-borne disease at the University of Oxford led
to the setting up of the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP), a programme which has provided
sophisticated models of malaria distribution to inform planning and policy decisions of national
governments and international agencies. MAP data underpinned the 2012 World Health
Organization World Malaria Report and has influenced WHO's policy on malaria. Mapping has also
been used in planning and resource allocation by other key players in the fight against malaria: the
African Leaders Malaria Alliance, the Roll Back Malaria partnership, the Global Fund and the
Global Health Group. More recent research to map the global distribution of dengue risk has been
used in vaccine planning by the GAVI Alliance in conjunction with the Gates Foundation.
Since 1997 University of Liverpool (UoL) investigators have led global
research into malarial retinopathy, the fundus features associated with
severe malaria. The work has propelled this phenomenon from little-known
curiosity to an essential component in the diagnosis of cerebral malaria
(CM) and has altered understanding of how CM causes coma and kills. It has
changed medical practice of those diagnosing one of the commonest fatal
diseases in tropical countries. Malarial retinopathy is now considered an
essential clinical feature of CM aiding the appropriate management of coma
in infants. This change in practice has expanded from African research
settings to clinical practice required by WHO guidelines and disseminated
in major clinical textbooks from 2008.
Research by the University of Oxford's Shoklo Malaria Research Unit
(SMRU), Mae Sot (Thailand), has had a significant impact on the health
outcomes of pregnant women and infants in malaria affected areas, with
findings leading to major changes in World Health Organization
recommendations for the prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy.
Its studies have established the optimum treatment regimes (using
artemisinin-based drugs) and have shown that early detection and treatment
of malaria, including asymptomatic infection, during pregnancy prevents
maternal mortality, morbidity, and improves the outcome of pregnancy.
Work by LSHTM researchers has led to a greater understanding of Plasmodium
species and contributed new methodologies for diagnosis. As a result,
patients with the uncommon
species P. knowlesi and many hundreds with P. ovale spp.
have been correctly diagnosed by
polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and the rapid detection of parasite DNA
is revolutionising clinical
trial design. The work has led to the successful commercialisation of a
malaria testing kit for use in developing countries. Through media outputs
and further research, the
work has taken awareness of the issues surrounding malaria diagnostics to
Integrated Vector Management (IVM) was developed by the World Health
Organisation to control vector borne diseases using combinations of
interventions. Professor Steve Lindsay and his team have contributed to
the development and assessment of many of the tools used for vector
control, including insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs), larval source
management and house screening for malaria control. This research has
influenced international policy on the control of malaria and other
important diseases. It is estimated that 294 million ITNs have been
purchased for malaria control, and have helped save 1.1 million lives over
the past decade.