Investigational Ebola treatments are to be tested in West Africa for the first time as part of an international initiative to fast-track trials of the most promising drugs, for the disease that has already led to over 2,600 deaths. A £3.2 million grant from the Wellcome Trust will enable multiple partners around the world, including the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infections Consortium (ISARIC), the University of Oxford, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the World Health Organisation (WHO), Institut Pasteur, Institut Pasteur de Dakar, Fondation Mérieux and the Global Health Network, to quickly establish clinical trials at existing Ebola treatment centres.
On 26 Sept ,SMRU Director Francois Nosten was made an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London in recognition for all of his and SMRU’s work in the field of maternal health. Nick White, MORU Chair man for SEA, was also made a Fellow but couldn’t attend the ceremony.
The new MORU website is now live and features improved functionality and content. The site is available at the previous address:www.tropmedres.ac/home
There is currently no international law or body that can organise the detection and prevention of fake medicines - and it's a critical threat to our ability to fight deadly diseases
A programme led by Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science, Malaria Atlas Project and the NDM Eijkman Oxford Clinical Research Unit (EOCRU) in Jakarta, has recently won the Google Impact Challenge 2014. EOCRU is a subunit of the Wellcome-Oxford Major Overseas Programme based in Viet Nam, which is part of NDM Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health. The prize is £500K to develop the project which will, over the next three years, create a smartphone app and a range of wearable acoustic detectors to detect the sound of mosquitoes. The group will then equip villagers in rural Indonesia with the novel technology.
Congratulations to Dr Faith Osier, a research scientist in the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kenya and honorary NDM Fellow, on winning the Royal Society Pfizer Prize for 2014. Dr Osier has been recognised for her leading work on understanding the development of immunity to malaria, particularly in children, in endemic disease areas. This work is important in contributing to the search for malaria vaccines. Dr Osier was also recently awarded the prestigious African Research Leader Award from the UK Medical Research Council (MRC)/Department for International Development (DfID).
Studies published by Oxford University researchers report promising results in developing new drugs and vaccines against malaria. Researchers based in Thailand have reported the spread of parasites resistant to our best anti-malarial drug, artemisinin. Meanwhile, scientists in another overseas research programmes in Kenya have identified a number of new malaria vaccine candidates. While neither set of results will provide a solution in the short term, it does show there are a range of efforts in the pipeline that are showing potential against this most difficult of parasites to tackle.
The Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) has published results in the New England Journal of Medicine, showing that drug-resistant malaria parasites have spread to critical border regions of Southeast Asia. NDM Professor Nicholas White, chair of MORU and WWARN, has stated that ‘we will need to take more radical action and make this a global public health priority, without delay.' If we are not able to contain these parasites, it is possible that resistance will spread into malaria endemic regions of Africa and could derail the global drive to control and eventually eliminate malaria altogether.
In April 2014, Bill and Melinda Gates visited the Targeted Malaria Elimination (TME) study in Palin, Cambodia. The TME study is a collaboration between MORU and the Cambodian National Malaria Control Program and assesses the epidemiology and role of treatment of subclinical falciparum malaria. The Gates Foundation has played a role in pushing the malaria elimination agenda and has also contributed to the funding of the TME studies in South-East Asia.
Dr Philip Bejon will take over the role of Director of KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme from 1 September 2014. His appointment follows the decision by outgoing Director Professor Kevin Marsh to leave the programme and work with a range of African and UK-partnered institutions to strengthen scientific capacity in Africa. Dr Bejon is a clinical epidemiologist and has been working with the programme the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme since 2002, specialising in vaccine development.