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Age of exposure and immunity to malaria in infants

Final Report Summary - MALARIA AGE EXPOSURE (Age of exposure and immunity to malaria in infants)

The AGEMAL project aimed at further understanding the mechanisms of naturally acquired immunity (NAI) to malaria in infants. Specifically, the overall objective has been to investigate the role of the age of first exposure to Plasmodium falciparum during infancy upon the development of NAI to malaria. This knowledge is needed to help in the rational design and deployment of candidate malaria vaccines and other malaria control tools, including the optimal timing for administration during infancy.

The AGEMAL study has produced a very large amount of data of high complexity, because it combines clinical, epidemiological, immunological, host genetics and oxidative stress data in a very well characterised and closely followed up cohort of mothers and children living in a malaria endemic area of Africa. They anticipate that a high number of articles will arise from this project in the coming years. From the biostatistics point of view it is a big challenge to integrate all these multiple databases and to make the most of this unique dataset, even more considering the longitudinal study design. At the same time, it is also an exciting opportunity for expanding the original primary aims with additional exploratory scientific questions that can result in follow up sub-studies and analyses. Because of this, the dissemination of results including the publication of data was expected to start by 2010. They believe the results of this project will have an impact on the development of future malaria control tools and on the design of the trials to test them. The consortium intends to assist and actively promote the project in meetings since we consider it crucial to disseminate the generated knowledge.

This project recognises the need for raising public participation and awareness. It is a project related to public health, addressed to children, targeted at a major killer disease in the developing world, carried out in a developing country, with participation of men and women equally and carried out by groups from the five continents. This project will be useful for the design of future trials, such as IPTi or malaria vaccines, that could even lead to policy changes in the developing countries. It is essential that the public are made aware of European efforts in this area. Press releases and any other relevant documents will be produced in cooperation between the consortium and the European Commission (EC), always mentioning the support received by the European Union. Any information that the EC should consider interesting for public awareness would be published upon request by the EC. Due to the magnitude of the project, it has to be well coordinated and the consortium should be alert while working with the media. It is the consortiums belief is that scientists should have the commitment to increase awareness and interest in science and its importance. The project aims at disseminating general information on malaria and its consequences, the importance of doing research on malaria control and the critical role that research in developing countries plays. And furthermore, to create public opinion in public health and make the society understand the health inequalities between developed and developing countries, our commitment through science to these latter countries and the EC's efforts to fund research in these.