Malaria is an ancient disease, but it is still challenging us and killing hundreds of thousands of people a year, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease is caused by a parasite carried by the female Anopheles mosquito.
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.
An acute or chronic infection caused by the presence of protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium in red blood cells, malaria is transmitted from one human host to the next by the bite of anopheline mosquitoes. It is characterized by periodic attacks of chills and fever that coincide with the rupture of infected blood cells and subsequent release of toxic substances at the end of each reproductive cycle.
(From the National Institute of Health)