Every year, approximately 200 million people contract malaria, predominantly in Africa. Parasites, so-called plasmodia, are responsible for this tropical disease. They are transmitted by mosquito bites. Symptoms of malaria include high recurrent fever alternating with fever-free phases, as well as chills and gastrointestinal symptoms. Particularly children under the age of five frequently die of the disease.
The fight against malaria is slow, despite extensive research: scientists’ work is impeded by regional variations of the pathogen, genetic differences in the affected population groups, co-infections with other pathogens and increasing resistance to the available drugs. Consequently, DZIF researchers in the research field “Malaria” in Tübingen, Heidelberg and Hamburg-Lübeck-Borstel-Riems also follow unconventional approaches: they test and improve vaccination procedures and develop parasite inhibitors. Additionally, they conduct research on the regional spread of the malaria pathogen in order to optimally plan intervention measures in the affected regions. African Partner Institutions in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Gabon play a crucial role in conducting different research projects.
Further development of new promising parasite inhibitors from preclinical through to clinical phases.
Currently, approximately one billion people worldwide are at risk of developing an inability to work or blindness, becoming maimed or dying due to neglected tropical diseases (NTD). NTDs include river blindness, dengue fever, sleeping sickness, snakebites and leprosy, only to name a few known examples of this diverse group of diseases.