The CRESIB has today presented the research programme on malaria by Plasmodium vivax, a parasite causing over 70 million yearly cases of malaria in the world. This new programme will be developed in coordination with the leading international centres and researchers on P.vivax. The aim of this study is to contribute to a better understanding of malaria by P. vivax and to support and accelerate the development of new control tools, with a special focus in vaccines. This fact will promote the creation and development of a research line on P. vivax in CRESIB under the direction of Dr. Hernando A. del Portillo, one of the few specialists in molecular biology and vaccine development against this parasite. The number of CRESIB labs will be increased, with an enlargement and restoration of current facilities to meet the needs of the centre.
Malaria is an infectious disease which can be caused by four species of the Plasmodium parasite: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae and P. ovale. P. falciparum and P. vivax are the most prevalent, the first being more virulent and responsible of most of the severe morbidity and mortality. Nevertheless, during the last years, there has been a growing interest in malaria by P. vivax, which, as well as causing millions of malaria cases every year, it also generates a high social and economic cost for endemic countries. It is estimated that about 2,600 million people live in risk zones for P. vivax: central and south-America, Asia, Middle East and occidental Pacific. Clinical and pathogen presentation of P. vivax is not well understood. Despite the traditional belief that clinical malaria caused by this species of the parasite is mild, there are evidences suggesting that it can cause severe clinical patterns and even death of patients.
The paradox is that even though malaria by P. vivax has large global disease burden, this is a poorly studied disease, which has been long forgotten. Consequently, this new research programme has a large importance, and an estimated initial duration of 4 years.
This is the reason why CRESIB, through DR. Hernando A. del Portillo, specialist in molecular biology and vaccine development against Plasmodium vivax, gives plenty of importance to the development of new control tools for this type of malaria.
In the field of malaria by P. vivax, there has been until now a lack of initiatives to promote the global effort in the research on this disease. With the experience of the CRESIB group in malaria and of the Clínic Foundation for Biomedical Research (FCRB, Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biom褩ca) in the management and coordination of projects of international research, an international consortium of research in P. vivax will be created and promoted. This consortium will be constituted by leading malaria research centres, and will be coordinated from Barcelona.
Research centres collaborating in this project, mostly placed in malaria endemic areas by Plasmodium vivax, are: Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, located in Papua New Guinea; the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, located in New Delhi (India), the Tropical Medicine Foundation of Amazonas, in Manaus (Brazil) and the International Vaccine Centre, located in Cali (Colombia).
IDIBAPS. July 2007.