South Africa Launches Collaborative Malaria Initiative That Aims To Develop New Treatment, Prevention Methods
South African Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena on Tuesday launched an initiative that will aim to find new ways to prevent and treat malaria, Business Day reports. The South African Malaria Initiative aims to foster collaboration between South African malaria researchers and institutes, such as the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, and create partnerships with scientists in Africa and the rest of the world, Jane Morris, a coordinator for the initiative, said. The initiative was developed in 2005 by the African Centre for Gene Technologies, which is a joint venture between the University of Pretoria, the University of the Witwatersrand and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Kahn, Business Day, 2/8). South Africa's Science and Technology Department plans to contribute about $1.8 million over the next two years to the project (Sakoana, BuaNews, 2/7). The project will focus on three main areas of research: developing new antimalarial compounds, finding more effective ways to diagnose malaria and gaining more insight into how the malaria parasite interacts with mosquitoes (Business Day, 2/8). The initiative will use modern biotechnology, bioinformatics and medicinal chemistry (BuaNews, 2/7). Scientists also will investigate how mosquitoes transmit the parasite and which mosquito species prefer to bite humans, animals or both, according to Maureen Coetzee of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (SAPA/ANDNetwork.com, 2/7). Other agencies expected to contribute to the project include the Medical Research Council of South Africa, the National Health Laboratory Service, the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University and the University of Stellenbosch (Engineering News, 2/8). The Medicines for Malaria Venture and the World Health Organization also are supporting the initiative (BuaNews, 2/7). Morris said the initiative marks the first time malaria researchers in Africa will coordinate their efforts (SAPA/ANDNetwork.com, 2/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.