Timeline of malaria in 2018

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This is a timeline of malaria in 2018, attempting to describe significant events related to progress in the management of the disease in 2018.

Important developments

Category Important developments
Drugs mRNA vaccines against malaria continue development. Combination of fosmidomycin and piperaquine successfully complete clinical trial for antimalarial treatment.
Parasite Malaria parasites are found to be able to occupy sites outside the bloodstream, specifically in the bone marrow and spleen where red blood cells are formed.
Vector CRISPR/Cas9 engineered mosquitoes are developed to resist the malaria parasite.
Prevention A mosquito-repellant paint is developed.
Achievements The World Health Organization declares Paraguay as free from malaria, being the first country in the Americas to be granted this status since Cuba in 1973.
Progress The World Health Organization announces that progress against malaria has stalled, and that malaria is on the rise in more than 13 countries.

Full timeline

Note:

  • Dates are approximate to the event and matched with the news release.
  • Displayed location is often matched with location of main institution involved with the event.
Month and date Event type Details Location
January 4 Parasite Australian-led international team identifies the key portal used by malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax to enter human red blood cells. The researchers in Melbourne discover that the parasite infects humans by hijacking a protein the body cannot live without. This allows the possibility to successfully develop antibodies that disable the parasite from carrying out its activity.[1][2][3] Australia
January 10 Parasite Researchers at Pennsylvania State University describe two proteins that facilitate RNA-based interactions between the malaria parasite, its mosquito vector, and its human host. The two specialized proteins protect the parasite's messenger RNAs, until it takes up residence in a new mosquito or a human host.[4] United States
January 11 Parasite Researchers based at University of California San Diego School of Medicine publish study using whole genome analyses and chemogenetics to identify new drug targets and resistance genes in 262 cell lines of malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum that are resistant to 37 diverse antimalarial compound.[5][6] United States
January 12 Parasite International team of researchers publish study describing growth of clonal isolates of malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in the lab in the presence of 37 different small molecules with known antimalarial activity over the course of 3 to 6 months. The study identified more than 80 genes that contribute to resistance, some of which could provide important information for drug development.[7][8]
January 18 Treatment Researchers at University of Cambridge, using artificial intelligence to conduct high-throughput screening, report that triclosan (an antibacterial and antifungal ingredient used in toothpaste) shows the potential to interrupt malaria infections at two critical stages, in the liver and the blood.[9][10][11][12] United Kingdom
January 19 Treatment Researchers from Tubingen Institute of Tropical Medicine and German company Deutschen Malaria GmbH report a new medication for malaria that can safely and effectively cure the disease, after having successfully completed a clinical trial for the drug combination of Fosmidomycin and Piperaquine. The two-fold medication is administered for three days to patients aged one to thirty who were infected with malaria via the Plasmodium falciparum pathogen.[13][14] Germany
January 19 Treatment The Nigerian National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) says it has successfully researched and developed six traditional herbal products for the treatment of ebola, malaria and other diseases. It includes Niprimal, an anti-malaria drug, which is said to be safe for use by pregnant women.[15][16] Nigeria
January 22 Treatment Study conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reports a novel 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria. The approach uses nanotechnology to improve the delivery of an existing antimalarial drug via a novel injectable format that can maintain blood concentration of the drug for weeks or months following a single dose.[17] United Kingdom, United States
January 28 Eradication The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank, and Carlos Slim Foundation announce a US$180 million initiative to eliminate malaria in Central America. The funding involves US$37.1 million from IDB, US$31.5 million from Gates, and US$15 million from the Carlos Slim Foundation, in addition to expected leveraging of US$100 million in domestic financing and $39 million of existing donor resources over the next five years.[18][19]
January 28 Eradication Six African countries (Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Senegal, the Gambia, Algeria and Comoros) are honoured by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) at the 30th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, for leading the way to a Malaria Free-Africa by 2030.[20][21][22] Ethiopia
January 31 Prevention Researchers find that the pulp juice and seed of Chrysophyllum albidum (African star apple) contain chemical substances that can protect from developing malaria and so its consumption should be encouraged especially in pregnancy. For the study, the researchers evaluated the properties of extracts in Albino mice inoculated with Plasmodium berghei.[23]
January 31 Vector Study using questionnaires sent to more than 100 health, conservation and fisheries workers around the world to produce a rapid assessment of the prevalence of mosquito net fishing, concludes warning that use of anti-malarial nets may reduce people’s protection and affect fish stocks, and calls for urgent research into potential impacts.[24][25] United Kingdom
February 2 Resistance Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and their collaborators show that malaria parasites developed multidrug resistance to first-line treatments extremely rapidly, after studying an outbreak of multidrug-resistant malaria in southeast Asia, likely stemming from two mutations of the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum that combined a decade ago.[26][27] United Kingdom
February 8 Vector An international team of researchers show that some people develop an immune response following a malaria infection that stops them from infecting other mosquitoes. The antibodies that these people produce are sucked up by the mosquito and destroy the malaria parasite in the mosquito's stomach. 1 in 25 malaria patients were found prevent the disease from spreading in this way. The study also unravels the defense proteins responsible, and these could be used to make a vaccine.[28][29]
February 8 Prevention The Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit governing body responsible for determining which emoji are added each year, announces that it has approved 157 new characters for release in June 2018, including a mosquito emoji for public health awarenes.[30]
February 9 Treatment Tests in West Africa find that primaquine and methylene blue, a safe drug long used to treat urinary tract infections, is also effective against malaria. The medication has however one disadvantage, turning urine a vivid blue.[31][32][33]
February 12 Treatment Researchers at University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine make use of nanotechnology in order to improve the delivery of atovaquone, an existing antimalarial drug. The process consists in a novel injectable format, which allows the drug to maintain blood concentration of the drug for several weeks following the application of a single dose.[34] United Kingdom, United States
February 13 Prevention German biopharmaceutical company CureVac announces the awarding of two new grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aimed at pursuing innovative mRNA vaccines against influenza and malaria. The programs would leverage CureVac’s prophylactic vaccine technology to develop mRNA-based vaccines designed to prevent influenza and malaria infection. These vaccines, which are flexible in their applications, can be rapidly produced and have the potential to address several global vaccine challenges.[35] Germany
February 20 Parasite Researchers based at the Francis Crick Institute discover a new processes that allows malaria parasites to escape red blood cells and infect other cells, offering potential new treatment targets. The team announces already working with pharmaceutical companies to use this knowledge to develop new antimalarial drugs.[36] United Kingdom
February 21 Treatment German scientists announce a new way to make a key malaria drug developed in 2012 at the Max Planck Institute, by means of a technique to make the process even more efficient, which should increase global access and reduce the cost.[37] Germany
February 21 Vector Researchers from the University of Illinois, Ohio State University, and the Fundación para el Estudio de Especies Invasivas (FuEDEI) in Argentina find that certain invasive plants provide shelter or resting sites and produce copious amounts of rich nectar, a source of energy which significantly increases their ability to transmit malaria.[38] United States, Argentina
February 22 Parasite Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology show that they can grow dormant human malaria parasites in engineered human liver tissue for several weeks, allowing them to closely study how the parasite becomes dormant, what vulnerabilities it may have, and how it springs back to life. The finding is expected to allow researchers develop and test new antimalaria drugs.[39][40][41] United States
February 25 Treatment Researchers at the School of Engineering Sciences and Technology, University of Hyderabad, develop a new polymer-nanomedicine for treatment of malaria. The new drug delivery system is equipped with a “time-temperature clock” module, where the doses for the treatment can be precisely tuned. The new formulation is efficient in killing plasmodium falciparum infection in red blood cells.[42][43][44] India
February 26 Treatment Researchers at University Health Network in Toronto publish treatment with inhaled nitric oxide (NO) which reduces the risk of fine motor impairment in pediatric patients with malaria.[45] Canada
February 28 Diagnosis Ugandan team develops a new test that can diagnose malaria in under two minutes—without taking blood. The test combines magnetism and light to differentiate between the blood of an infected and a healthy person.[46] Uganda
March 9 Vector Researchers from Johns Hopkins University make use of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool to engineer mosquitoes that are highly resistant to the malaria parasite, by deleting one specific gene.[47][48] United States
March 12 Parasite Researchers from Princeton University examine data from an earlier Indonesian study of 4,000 patients carrying both malaria and hookworm parasites, and conclude that the two pathogens compete for a common food source — red blood cells in the host’s internal ecosystem.[49] United States
March 23 Treatment International collaborative research group develops the world's first Drug Delivery System (DDS) for antimalarial drugs. The treatment increases efficiency up to 240 times as much as when antimalarial medicine is taken orally. The research group is headed by Prof. Shinya Hayami from Kumamoto University.[50][51] Japan
March 27 Parasite Scientists from the Wellcome Sanger Institute publish the first step towards the development of a Malaria Cell Atlas, after investigating the genes in individual malaria parasites, which lead to understanding the genetic processes each parasite undergoes as it moves through its complicated lifecycle. The Malaria Cell Atlas is a data resource aimed at providing gene activity profiles of individual malaria parasites throughout their lifecycle. It is expected to allow researchers to identify weak points in the parasite's lifecycle for intervention with drugs, and to help transform research into the disease.[52][53][54][55] United Kingdom
March 29 Parasite Researchers of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil and colleagues show that kidney dysfunction is a contributing factor to severe Plasmodium vivax malaria cases. The study analyzed data on 572 individuals from the Amazon rainforest, including 179 patients with Plasmodium vivax infection and 165 healthy controls. Severity of malaria was associated with abnormal creatinine increases, and patients who died from severe disease had the highest levels of creatinine.[56] Brazil
March 29 Prevention The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund awards the University of Florida and partners in the United States and Japan US$3.2 million to advance a promising vaccine to prevent transmission of malaria.[57] Japan, United States
April 9 Parasite Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute discover a receptor protein on the surface of human cells that interacts with a protein displayed on the surface of malaria parasites called "TRAP", as it navigates through the body. These findings are expected to help improve the development of an effective malaria vaccine.[58][59][60][61] United Kingdom
April 16 Parasite Research in sub-Saharan Africa shows high risk of malaria transmission after blood transfusions in the region, with nearly one in four blood bank supplies containing the parasites that cause malaria. Additional research in Equatorial Guinea shows that screening technology commonly used in the region cannot detect parasites in most of the contaminated supplies. Both studies are presented at the 7th Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan African Malaria Conference in Dakar, Senegal.[62] Sub-Saharan Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal
April 17 Parasite Dutch molecular/cellular parasitologist Taco Kooij from Radboud University Medical Center discovers a protein in the mitochondrion of the malaria parasite that could be used as a target for a new drug. The malaria parasite is highly dependent on a unique protein for infecting new mosquitoes.[63][64][65] Netherlands
April 20 Vector Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Wageningen University & Research, Rothamsted Research, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology and Cardiff University publish important details about how human odor is influenced by malaria, whose parasite can change the way people smell, making them more attractive to mosquitoes. The work may help explain why the disease is able to spread so effectively.[66] United Kingdom, Netherlands, Kenya
April 26 Prevention Ghanaian officials say their country is readying itself for the smooth pilot of the world's first malaria vaccine later in the year. Ghana, Kenya and Malawi would be the first African countries to test the MosquirixTM vaccine, which acts against Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally, and the most prevalent in Africa.[67][68][69] Ghana
May 9 Researchers at University of South Florida College of Public Health develop technique that allows scientists to more easily study malaria outside the human body during the earliest point of infection, the liver. The liver stage is significant as it precedes the parasite's ability to infect human blood, the point of which symptoms of malaria first appear.[70] United States
May 15 Diagnosis International team of researchers discover that malaria could be diagnosed through changes in body odor, after previously showing that malaria infection in a mouse model altered the odors of the mice to make them more attractive to mosquitoes, particularly at a stage of infection where the transmissible stage of the parasite was present at high levels.[71]
May 18 Parasite Researchers from Louisiana State University report discovery of a small number of lizard species (Prasinohaema) in New Guinea have green blood (tinted by bile pigment) that may pack a toxic punch strong enough to wipe out malaria parasites.[72][73][74][75][76] United States
May 18 Parasite Researchers at University of California, Riverside report finding that various stages of the development of human malaria parasites, including stages involved in malaria transmission, are linked to epigenetic features and how chromatin—the complex of DNA and proteins within the nucleus—is organized and structured in these parasites.[77] United States
May 22 Parasite Scientists at the Duke University in North Carolina report that the Plasmodium parasite manipulates liver cells to survive, tricking them into pumping out a protein called aquaporin 3, and then steals the protein for itself. Using an inhibitor to disable aquaporin-3 curtails the parasite's ability to reproduce inside the liver, the researchers report in PLOS Pathogens.[78][79] United States
May 22 Parasite Researchers from Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge, reveal the process of how malaria became a human-killer. The team compared seven types of malaria - tracing the parasite's family tree, and concluded that, about 50,000 years ago, the parasites diverged, with one "branch" evolving into the most deadly human-infecting species.[80] United Kingdom
May 23 Diagnosis Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering develop a portable optical diagnostics system (PODS) prototype for malaria screening that exploits magnetic properties of parasite byproduct to detect all strains in low-resource environments.[81] United States
May 23 Parasite Researchers at the American Museum of Natural History report having built the most comprehensive tree of life for malaria parasites, revealing more than 500 described species of malaria that infect mammals, birds, and reptiles. Among the researchers' findings, is that the diverse malaria parasite genus Plasmodium (which includes those species that infect humans) is composed of several distantly related evolutionary lineages, and, from a taxonomic standpoint, many species should be renamed.[82][83] United States
May 24 Parasite Researchers at University of Glasgow's Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology discover that malaria parasites can occupy sites outside the bloodstream, specifically in the bone marrow and spleen where red blood cells are formed. The studies show in animal models and human infection that this is the major niche for the development of malaria transmission stages and a significant reservoir for the parasite's replicative stages.[84] United Kingdom
May 25 Resistance Researchers at University of Calgary develop an inexpensive field test for drug-resistant malaria that can be performed anywhere, without the need for electricity or specialized lab equipment. The kit is portable and battery powered. Results are available in an hour, allowing health-care workers to administer the right treatment to patients sooner.[85][86] Canada
June 11 Erradication The World Health Organization certifies Paraguay as having eliminated malaria, the first country in the Americas to be granted this status since Cuba in 1973. The country recorded its last case of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in 1995, and Plasmodium vivax malaria, in 2011.[87][88][89][90] Paraguay
June 25 Vector The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announces donation of US$ 4 million for the development of bioengineered mosquitoes that kill off future generations of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes during sex. Oxitec is the United Kingdom company that would develop the genetically modified mosquitoes.[91][92][93] United Kingdom, United States
July 11 Parasite Researchers at the National Institutes of Health identify sequence leading to release of malaria parasites from red blood cells. According to the study, the vacuole, a compartment inside human red blood cells in which malaria parasites reproduce and develop, takes on a distinct spherical shape just minutes before its membrane ruptures, leading to the release of parasites into the blood stream.[94] United Kingdom
July 13 Prevention Researchers based at Yale University create a vaccine that protects against malaria infection in mouse models, paving the way for the development of a human vaccine that works by targeting the specific protein that parasites use to evade the immune system.[95][96] United States
July 17 Treatment The United States Food and Drug Administration approves Krintafel (tafenoquine), a new drug to treat recurrent malaria. The drug is a single-dose medication for radical cure (prevention of relapse) of Plasmodium vivax malaria. The drug is the result of a partnership of Glaxo Smith-Kline (GSK) and Medicines for Malaria Venture, a public-private company whose stated mission is to reduce the burden of malaria by developing and delivering new, effective and affordable antimalarial drugs.[97][98][99] United States
July 31 Parasite Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health announce having sequenced and annotated the first complete mitochondrial genome of Anopheles funestus, one of the main vectors of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. The finding offers a glimpse inside this insect’s genetic diversity, ancestral history, and evolution—information that researchers might eventually exploit to develop new ways to prevent malaria.[100] United States
August 1 Parasite Researchers from The Australian National University report having found that platelets can attack and kill malaria parasites—reducing the number of parasites circulating in the blood. The group's findings suggest PF4-based peptides (which are toxic platelet peptides) could be potential candidates for malaria treatment in the future.[101] Australia
August 11 Prevention Researchers from Durham University, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Burkina Faso’s Centre National de Recherche et de Formation sur le Paludisme, and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute report development of a new type of bed net with a specific combination of an insecticide and insect growth regulator that could prevent millions of cases of malaria.[102][103][104][105] United Kingdom, Burkina Faso, Switzerland
August 16 Diagnosis Researchers from the University of Copenhagen report discovery of a method of diagnosing a broad range of cancers at their early stages by utilizing a particular malaria protein, which sticks to cancer cells in blood samples. It is expected that this method can be used in cancer screenings in the near future.[106] Denmark
August 20 Parasite Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Edinburgh publish study describing how the genome sequences of ape parasites related to Plasmodium vivax, the main source of mosquito-borne malaria outside Africa, provide insights on the origin and early evolution of the human parasite. This finding could have implications for better comprehending and eradicating malaria infection worldwide.[107] United States, United Kingdom
August 31 Study led by ISGlobal in Barcelona identifies a new clinical phenotype of severe malaria by using computational analysis. The results indicate that heart failure can be a pathogenic mechanism of disease, which has implications in the clinical management of these patients.[108] Spain
August 31 Researchers from Emory University report surprising results (including time of infection as critical) after using mathematical modelling to measure the success of new strains of malaria. The researchers set up a computer model that ran simulations of malaria transmission over a period of roughly 14 years. The model contained 400 digital people who were attacked, on a random basis, by 12,000 digital mosquitoes.[109] United States
September 4 Prevention Researchers at University of Glasgow and the Wellcome Sanger Institute publish results of experimental research demonstrating that a regulator protein, AP2-G, may hold the key to finding new approaches to prevent malaria. The regulator protein AP2-G is key to malaria parasite's lifecycle.[110][111] United Kingdom
September 10 Prevention Officials announce release of some 10,000 sterile male mosquitoes in Burkina Faso, with the eventual hope that male mosquitoes, modified so that 90% of their offspring are also male, would dramatically reduce the overall population as well as reducing malaria incidence, as it is the female mosquitoes which transmit the disease.[112] Burkina Faso
September 10 Prevention Nigerian officials announce distribution of at least 4.7 million Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLIN’s) for free to the people of Katsina State as part of measures to eliminate malaria scourge in the state.[113] Nigeria
September 18 Research trial from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, studying the feasibility of growing plants used to treat malaria, report success in its first growing season. The crop's success (artemisia) can be attributed to the abundance of rainfall in the season, negating the need for any irrigation.[114] United States
September 19 Treatment Portland-based drug developer announces starting human trials for a new anti-malarial drug called DM1157, designed to overcome resistance to other malaria drugs.[115] United States
September 20 Prevention Researchers in Spain announce study indicating promising avenues in an innovative approach for developing a vaccine against Plasmodium vivax, the most prevalent human malaria parasite outside sub-Saharan Africa. The study indicates the possibility of using small vesicles secreted by immature red blood cells as a vaccine platform against malaria.[116][117] Spain
September 20 Treatment Scientists from the University of Melbourne and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company from Japan report having discovered that antimalarial drug artemisinin works through a twofold setback attack on the parasite. The drug damages proteins in malaria parasites and clogs the parasite's waste disposal system, known as the proteasome, which chemotherapy can target.[118] Australia, Japan
September 21 Vector Scientists report having discovered compounds that might keep mosquitoes from spreading malaria. The researchers identified compounds that could stop the spread of the disease by making the parasites incapable of infecting mosquitoes. After screening more than 70,000 compounds, the team identified six with the potential to become malaria-blocking drugs.[119] United Kingdom
September 26 Prevention The Government of Punjab in collaboration with the World Health Organization launch a 'micro-strategic plan' to eliminate malaria from the state by 2020.[120] India
September 27 Treatment Researches at Oxford University, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands develop a new approach to battling malaria, by boosting an immune response in the liver. The group report successful test in mice.[121] United Kingdom, United States, Netherlands
October 2 Prevention Japanese paint producer Kansai Plascon launches the world's first mosquito-repellant paint in Zambia to help it reach a target to eliminate malaria by 2021.[122][123] Japan, Zambia
October 4 Immunology Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology find that in some malaria patients, immune cells called natural killer cells (NK cells) fail to turn on the genes necessary to effectively destroy malaria-infected red blood cells.[124] United States
October 8 Prevention Researchers based at Yale University explores the role of glucose metabolism in the development of the disease, and may hold a key to preventing or treating it in humans. Using mouse models of cerebral malaria, the research team experimented with different ways of manipulating feeding behavior, and based on their findings in a previous study, they theorized that reduced food intake —and specifically reduced glucose utilization— after malarial infection would increase the ability of mice to tolerate the infection.[125] United States
October 23 Immunology Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute manage to capture images of antibodies working together against malaria. The research shows that antibodies working together can result in a protein on the parasite's cell surface locking it into a spiral conformation, like a wide corkscrew, blocking the parasite from starting its life cycle in the human host and, hence, protecting against infection.[126] United States
October 29 Diagnosis Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine suggest that dogs can identify the odor of malaria. After several weeks of training, the dogs correctly identified socks from infected children 70 percent of the time and correctly identified socks from uninfected children 90 percent of the time.[127][128][129][130][131] United Kingdom
November 3 Treatment Researchers from the National Institute of Malaria Research in India announce developement of two new drugs against drug-resistant malaria that target a new protein not targeted by currently available drugs.[132] India
November 7 Prevention South Africa investigates sterilising mosquitoes in anti-malaria drive. The project involving Anopheles arabiensis aims to show that the sterile insect technique can be successfully used to suppress mosquito populations that carry and spread malaria. If it works, the approach can be used as an alternative vector control method to complement existing strategies. South Africa is one of four southern African countries aiming to eliminate malaria transmission by 2023.[133] South Africa
November 19 The World Health Organization announces that progress against malaria has stalled, adding a second year in a row in its annual report on the disease. However, unlike last year, the WHO pairs the update with an aggressive plan to step up action in the hardest-hit countries.[134][135][136][137] Also, it is reported that malaria is on the rise in more than 13 countries.[138]
November 28 Prevention A four-day mass drug administration (MDA) campaign is launched in the Northern Kivu province town of Beni in DR Congo, with a target to reach up to 450,000 people with anti-malarial drugs combined with the distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets.[139][140] Democratic Republic of the Congo
December 10 Treatment Researchers at Insilico Taiwan (a Taipei-based subsidiary of Insilico Medicine) announce development of a new end-to-end drug discovery pipeline to eradicate malaria by using next generation artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools.[141][142] Taiwan

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References

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