Malaria kills 2-3 million people each year, 75 percent of which are children. The disease is firmly re-established in at least five Eastern European countries. Economic instability in the region as a consequence of the second gulf war has left associated E U states such as Turkey and Azerbaijan facing major epidemics.
Recent European white papers have highlighted the increasing threat of 'airport malaria' and highlight the impact of global warming on the spread of the mosquito vector to parts of Europe thought free of the disease. Novel therapeutics are urgently required since the parasite is developing resistance to all available drugs.
Although a vaccine against malaria is considered the ultimate goal, its development has been beset with difficulties and t he search for alternative therapies has become of global importance. The success of passive immunization strategies to cure malaria in humans suggests that antibody (Ab) based therapies could be used to treat the disease. Ab plays a crucial role in immunity to malaria.
However Ab effectiveness can be enhanced by genetic modifications that improve on nature. In addition to being novel therapeutics, recombinant Abs will increase our base knowledge of both immune and pathological mechanisms operating during the course of infection.
The AIM programme, based at the University of Nottingham, will therefore take advantage of developments in the field of Ab engineering to develop 4 key programmes of research with the view to manufacturing optimal therapeutic antibodies to treat malaria.
These 4 programmes are:
- Develop Ab-based therapeutics for the treatment of malaria.
- To understand which Ab-receptors (Fc-receptors) are best engaged for optimal killing of malaria parasites.
- To determine the role of breast milk and serum Abs in protecting newborn children from malaria.
- To elucidate the molecular mechanisms for involvement of Ab in placental malaria.
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