World Malaria Day: EU Research
According to the World Health Organisation, in 2010, an estimated 219 million malaria cases occurred globally and the disease killed about 660 000 people, mostly children under five years of age.
Since 2002, the EU has invested more than €209 million in 87 projects carrying out research into the disease and how to control it. In addition, through its partnership with sub-Saharan Africa (the EDCTP initiative), the EU is supporting 32 clinical trials into new treatments with some €50 million.
Thanks to the efforts of the EU and international community, as well as governments and health-care providers in endemic countries, malaria deaths have fallen by 25% since the year 2000.
Press release: EU research project develops new malaria test tool
More background information: Contribution of EU research to fight against Malaria
Here are two examples of successful, EU-funded malaria-related research projects:
An international team of scientists has discovered a key molecule that helps the malaria parasite evade the human body's immune system. Partially funded by the EU-backed EVIMALAR ('Towards the establishment of a permanent European virtual institute dedicated to malaria research') project and presented in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, the findings of this study could provide fresh insight into how the parasite that triggers disease can dodge the defences built by the immune system. EVIMALAR, meanwhile, is funded under the Health Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to the tune of EUR 12 million.
Parasites responsible for triggering full—blown malaria initially travel to the liver, multiply and then flee and invade red blood cells. The common position for researchers is that parasites must feed on iron to grow. New research, however, points out that patients diagnosed with full—blown malaria could be protected against new infections following activation of a hormone ensuring that liver cells cannot feed on iron. The study, presented in the journal Nature Medicine, was partially supported through COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology), a programme backed by the EU's Research and Technological Development (RTD) Framework Programme. The discovery could lead to improved management and prevention methods of malaria.
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