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Maternal malaria researcher wins prestigious international prize
Date:6/11/2008

Groundbreaking research into treating malaria infections in pregnant women has earned Professor Franois Nosten, Director of the Wellcome Trust-funded Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) in Mae Sot, Thailand, international recognition. Professor Nosten today receives the Christophe & Rodolphe Merieux Foundation Prize, a 400,000 prize awarded to a researcher or research team studying infectious diseases in developing countries, presented by the Institut de France.

"I'm delighted to have received this award," says Professor Nosten. "The recognition from my home country for the work of myself and my colleagues is very important, and the prize money will allow me to conduct more work on maternal malaria, a poorly-researched area."

Malaria is one of the world's deadliest killers, killing over a million people each year, mainly pregnant women and young children in Africa and south east Asia. Although treatments exist to tackle the disease, which is caused by Plasmodium parasites, until Professor Nosten's work, little was known about how to treat pregnant women, particularly in areas where the parasites have been increasingly developing resistance to treatment.

"Pregnant women are always excluded from clinical trials because of the fear of harming the unborn baby," explains Professor Nosten, a professor at the University of Oxford. "Paradoxically it was considered unethical to recruit pregnant women in studies, but ethical to leave them untreated."

Professor Nosten, together with Professor Nick White, Chairman of the Wellcome Trust's South East Asia Programme, began researching maternal malaria over twenty years ago in 1986 on the border of Thailand and Burma where they saw many pregnant women dying from malaria. By organising antenatal consultations for all pregnant women to screen their blood every week during the pregnancy, they were able to detect malaria parasites quickly and treat them before they developed into severe infecti
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Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7329
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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