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UC San Diego to lead new malaria research center in South America
Date:7/8/2010

ity are children under the age of 5 and pregnant women. Travelers who lack immunity are also vulnerable when visiting areas with a high rate of malaria transmission. There is no vaccine, and the cause of the disease a parasitic microorganism transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito evolves constantly to resist drug treatments.

"At a time when eradication is the ultimate goal of malaria control strategies, it remains unclear why malaria has proven so difficult to control across the Amazon Basin," said Vinetz, who has spent more than 20 years investigating malaria, much of that time in the Peruvian Amazon.

"We have assembled an impressive team of specialists who are prepared to look at all aspects of malaria transmission in this region, to improve the diagnosis, the treatment and the prevention of infection. Over the long term, we share the NIH's goal of generating research findings that can be translated into effective public health interventions and that lead to the audacious goal of global malaria eradication."

Marcelo Ferreira, MD, PhD, of the University of Sao Paulo and a world-recognized malaria parasitologist who will oversee the Brazil-based part of the grant, said "our focus will be on studying the great reservoir of malaria-infected people who have no clinical symptoms of disease. This will allow us to direct malaria control efforts at the sources of infection: asymptomatically infected humans. This focus will drive vaccine- and drug-based control strategies."

Alejandro Llanos Cuentas of the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, a tropical disease specialist who will direct the grant in Peru, added:

"In Peru, with the control measures implemented in the last 5 years, there has been an 80% reduction in malaria cases in the Amazon. Nevertheless, this reduction is an unstable equilibrium because of limitations of current control strategies and the great risk of new outbreaks and epidemics.
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Contact: Scott LaFee
slafee@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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