We now have drugs that can kill the parasite very quickly, but still one of five children who develop the most severe forms of the disease dies.
We are focused on figuring out how the parasite kills children – what processes does it set off in the human host that are lethal? Our goal is to to learn how we can intervene to rescue those children from this disease.
I’m happy to say that we are making progress, slowly but surely. This parasite is very tricky, but little by little we are stripping away its defenses and we are close to figuring out what to do to rescue those children at highest risk of dying.
Building on more than a quarter century of work in Malawi, work which includes the first systematic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies, Dr. Karl Seydel, a Michigan State University researcher and colleague of Dr. Taylor’s, is traveling to neighboring Zambia to help characterize patients who will undergo MRI scans on a stronger MRI machine. The comparisons between images from patients in Malawi and images from similar patients in Zambia will illuminate our understanding of how malaria damages the pediatric brain.