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London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Malaria Centre

William Stone at MIM 2018 | Progress since the first MIM and highlights from this year

09 May 2018
MIM 2018 travel award winner

 

The LSHTM Malaria centre provided me with an award to attend the Multilateral Initiative for Malaria (MIM) conference in Dakar, Senegal, between the 14th and 20th of April 2018.

The first MIM was in Dakar in 1997. At that time, malaria killed close to 2 million people every year. Artemisinin combination therapies were stuck in development, and resistance to the drugs then on the front line was widespread. In short – Africa was in the midst of a malaria emergency. With that in mind it was great to hear Professor Sir Brian Greenwood discussing his role in that first meeting, and his joy seeing the conference grow in size and reputation since then. Malaria now kills less than half a million people a year, and it was nice to able to attend Prof. Greenwood’s talk on the role of anti-malarial chemotherapies in bringing about that reduction and their use as we aim for eradication. 

The meeting had numerous highlights, but it was particularly interesting to hear about the current status of transmission-blocking vaccine development from the leaders in the Field. Human trials with the most advanced candidates have been completed in Mali, and surprisingly the Pfs230 vaccine shows the highest immunogenicity – in contrast to earlier data from rodents. On the 19th I presented my own research, titled ‘Unravelling the signature of P. falciparum transmission blocking immunity’. Here, I showed work in which my team and I used mosquito feeding assays and protein microarrays to identify antibody responses associated with naturally occurring transmission reducing immunity. Our hope is that these antibody responses could provide biomarkers to help us understand why some people are disproportionately infectious to mosquitoes, and that these may also feed into the pipeline for vaccine development.

As well as the scientific sessions and seminars, I was able to use MIM to discuss ongoing and future work with my collaborators. I had useful meetings with collaborators from Mali and Burkina Faso, and with old colleagues from the Netherlands and Kenya.

I would like to thank the Malaria centre for their continued support.