In the lab: six innovations scientists hope will end malaria

admin   •   June 8, 2016   •   2355

 An Anopheles stephensi mosquito obtains a blood meal from a human host through its pointed proboscis in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Gathany/CDC/Handout via Reuters An Anopheles stephensi mosquito obtains a blood meal from a human host through its pointed proboscis in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters November 23, 2015. REUTERS/JIM GATHANY/CDC/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS


An Anopheles stephensi mosquito obtains a blood meal from a human host through its pointed proboscis in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Gathany/CDC/Handout via Reuters
An Anopheles stephensi mosquito obtains a blood meal from a human host through its pointed proboscis in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters November 23, 2015.
REUTERS/JIM GATHANY/CDC/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS

ARUSHA, Tanzania (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – After being abandoned as too ambitious in 1969, global plans to eliminate malaria are back on the agenda, with financial backing from the world’s richest couple, Bill and Melinda Gates, and U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Gateses aim to eradicate malaria by 2040 by doubling funding over the next decade to support the roll out of new products to tackle rising drug resistance against the disease.

Their goal of permanently ending transmission of the disease between humans and mosquitoes is more ambitious than the Sustainable Development Goal of ending epidemic levels of malaria by 2030.

They are also supporting a push to create the world’s first vaccine against a parasite.

Six innovations scientists are working on are:

* New insecticides: Mosquitoes are becoming resistant to insecticides used to spray inside homes and in bed nets.

“There is no current insecticide that doesn’t show insect-resistance at the moment,” said Jed Stone, a spokesman for the UK-based Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC).

Indoor spraying of walls with insecticide — which was used to wipe out malaria in the United States in the 1940s — has fallen by 40 percent since 2012 due to resistance to older products and the high cost of newer ones.

The IVCC is developing three new insecticides for use in indoor sprays and bed nets that kill insecticide-resistant mosquitoes.

“The insecticides are virtually ready but it will take about five years to finally develop them,” Stone said, adding that this largely involves registration with regulators.

* A single-dose cure: A pill that would wipe out all parasites in the body could be available by 2019, the Gates Foundation says.

Human trials of one candidate are planned following successful tests on mice, published in 2015.

Existing drugs have to be taken for three days with the risk that people do not finish their medication, contributing to the development of drug-resistant malaria.

They also only kill parasites at the asexual-stage where they cause fever but not at the sexual-stage where they are picked up by mosquitoes in blood.

* Insecticide-treated wall liners: Scientists hope insecticide-treated wall liners, which look like wallpaper, will be more effective than spraying people’s homes with insecticide every three to eight months. The wall liners kill mosquitoes that rest on them and can last for three years.

Tanzania’s National Institute for Medical Research is testing wall liners in 6,000 homes to see if they protect people from malaria. Results will be published in 2017.

* Insecticide-embedded clothing: American soldiers have been wearing combat uniforms treated with permethrin, a synthetic insecticide, since 2010 to protect them against insect-borne diseases.

The U.S. government’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research will test the effectiveness of treated combat uniforms and repellent creams in July on Tanzanian soldiers who often catch malaria when working at night as peacekeepers.

* A vaccine: This is a big one, given vaccines success in eliminating smallpox, polio and measles in many countries.

More than 30 malaria vaccines are under development.

The Mosquirix vaccine, discovered in 1987, is a decade ahead of other candidates but, to date, it only halves the number of bouts of malaria young children suffer.

The World Health Organization is seeking funding for a pilot program to administer Mosquirix to 400,000 to 800,000 African children. The results will be used to make a decision on whether to use the vaccine more widely.

* GM mosquitoes: Scientists have genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes by adding genes that block the development of the malaria parasite inside the insect and prevent it from being transmitted to people.

Scientists have also genetically modified mosquitoes to make them infertile, so that they die out. But many are cautious about the unforeseen consequences of this.

“When people imagine a malaria end game scenario, GM mosquito technology would be incredibly powerful because it doesn’t rely on a robust health system in order to go in and disrupt transmission of the parasite,” said Martin Edlund, chief executive of Malaria No More, referring to war-torn countries like South Sudan.

The International Center for Journalists and Malaria No More provided a travel grant for this report

(Reporting by Katy Migiro; Editing by Katie Nguyen; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)

WHO approves first malaria vaccine, recommends use for children

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 7, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the first malaria vaccine and has recommended its use among children.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the use of this vaccine could save tens of thousands of young lives each year. The recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot program in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

“This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,” he said.

The agency is recommending the use of RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions, based on the advice of two WHO global advisory bodies.

For the vaccination, the WHO also said the vaccine should be administered in areas with moderate to high transmission as defined by the agency. Malaria vaccine should be provided in a schedule of 4 doses in children from 5 months of age for the reduction of malaria disease and burden.

Meanwhile, financing for the pilot program has been mobilized. AAC

 

 

Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft board

UNTV News   •   March 15, 2020

Bill Gates

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates announced on Friday that he is stepping down from the company’s board to spend more time on philanthropic activities.

Gates will also step down from the board of Berkshire Hathaway, an investment company owned by investment mogul Warren Buffett.

Gates, 65, wrote on LinkedIn that this is the right time to focus on more humanitarian pursuits.

“I have made the decision to step down from both of the public boards on which I serve – Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway – to dedicate more time to philanthropic priorities including global health and development, education, and my increasing engagement in tackling climate change. The leadership at the Berkshire companies and Microsoft has never been stronger, so the time is right to take this step,” he wrote.

Moreover, he said that resigning from the board does not mean stepping away from the company.

“With respect to Microsoft, stepping down from the board in no way means stepping away from the company. Microsoft will always be an important part of my life’s work and I will continue to be engaged with Satya and the technical leadership to help shape the vision and achieve the company’s ambitious goals,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, said that Microsoft has benefited from Gates’ leadership and vision and will continue to promote Gates’ passion for technology and promote the advancement of products and services.

In 1975, Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft, the world’s largest computer operating system maker and also one of the world’s major cloud computing service providers. Gates served as Microsoft’s CEO until Steve Ballmer took over in 2000.

As of now, Microsoft’s market value has reached 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars. Since 2008, Gates has devoted more time to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (Reuters)

Trump, Obama tout clashing visions of U.S. as elections near

UNTV News   •   November 5, 2018

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) greets President-elect Donald Trump at inauguration ceremonies swearing in Trump as president on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Barack Obama made dueling election appearances on Sunday, offering sharply different views on the country’s problems but agreeing on the high stakes for voters in the final 48 hours of a tight campaign.

With opinion polls showing dozens of tight U.S. congressional and gubernatorial races in Tuesday’s election, the current and former presidents said the results would determine what kind of country Americans live in for the next two years.

“This election will decide whether we build on this extraordinary prosperity we have created,” Trump told a cheering crowd in Macon, Georgia, warning that Democrats would “take a giant wrecking ball to our economy.”

Trump campaigned with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is in a tight race with Democrat Stacey Abrams for the governor’s office.

Obama condemned Trump, without addressing him by name, and Republicans for what he described as their divisive policies and repeated lies. He hammered Trump and Republicans for repeatedly trying to repeal his signature healthcare law while at the same time claiming to support the law’s protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

“The only check right now on the behavior of these Republicans is you and your vote,” Obama told supporters in Gary, Indiana, during a rally for endangered Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly.

“The character of our country is on the ballot,” he said.

Trump and Obama are the most popular figures in their parties, and their appearances on the campaign trail are designed to stoke enthusiasm among core supporters in the late stages of a midterm congressional election widely seen as a referendum on Trump’s first two years in the White House.

Opinion polls and election forecasters have made Democrats favorites on Tuesday to pick up the 23 seats they need to capture a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would enable them to stymie Trump’s legislative agenda and investigate his administration.

Republicans are favored to retain their slight majority in the U.S. Senate, currently at two seats, which would let them retain the power to approve U.S. Supreme Court and other judicial nominations on straight party-line votes.

In the midst of a six-day national blitz of rallies ahead of Tuesday’s election, Trump will also appear later on Sunday in Tennessee, which hosts a vital U.S. Senate race.

HARD-LINE RHETORIC

In the final stages of the campaign, Trump has ramped up his hard-line rhetoric on immigration and cultural issues including warnings about a caravan of migrants headed to the border with Mexico and of liberal “mobs.”

He repeated those themes in Georgia, urging voters to “look at what is marching up – that’s an invasion.” He said Democrats encouraged chaos at the borders because it was good politics.

Ronna McDaniel, head of the Republican National Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week” program that the media had chosen to focus on Trump’s immigration rhetoric but the president was also emphasizing economic and job gains under his presidency.

The Labor Department on Friday reported sharply better-than-expected job creation in October, with the unemployment rate steady at a 49-year low of 3.7 percent and wages notching their best annual gain in almost a decade.

But in Indiana, Obama said Republicans were taking credit for the economic renewal that started under his presidency. “You hear those Republicans brag about how good the economy is, where do you think that started?” he asked.

Obama also appeared later on Sunday in his old home state of Illinois, which hosts a competitive governor’s race and several tight U.S. House of Representative races. Obama’s appearance on the campaign trail is his second in three days.

In the battle for the Senate, Democrats are defending seats in 10 states that Trump won in the 2016 presidential election, including a handful that he won by double digits.

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, who heads the Democratic Senate campaign arm, said it was “remarkable” that Democrats were even in striking distance of capturing the Senate given the unfavorable map they faced.

“The fact we still have a narrow path to a majority is a sea change from where we were two years ago,” he said on ABC. “These are some very close races and they are in states where Trump won big.”

As of Sunday morning, almost 34.4 million people had cast ballots early, according to the Election Project at the University of Florida, which tracks turnout. That is up 67.8 percent from the 20.5 million early votes cast in all of 2014, the last federal election when the White House was not at stake.

For all Reuters election coverage, click: here

Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Susan Thomas

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