Gates Foundation Malaria Forum - Day 2
This following is an excerpt from a post that originally appeared on the Malaria No More Policy Center blog.
The second day of the Gates Malaria Forum was highlighted with the announcement of interim results from the latest RTS,S malaria vaccine trials. The forum also featured the research-based, political, and industry commitments required to achieve both the short-term goal of zero deaths in malaria by 2015 and eradication in the long-term.
Key highlights of the Forum on Tuesday:
- Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced that among five- to 17-month-old children, the vaccine prevented clinical malaria in 56 percent of participants. He emphasized that this evidence was proof that a malaria vaccine was possible. Both Bill and Melinda Gates talked about the need for additional research on of RTS,S to determine viability, as well as the need for a transmission-blocking vaccine in the long-term, which would prevent mosquitos from picking up the infection from human hosts.
- Basic research into the human body, the malaria parasite, and the disease is essential. Chris Drakeley of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine argued that identifying individuals representing the reservoirs of infection is critical if we are to continue to fight the disease in the future. Ashley Birkett, R&D Director, PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, noted that the investments made by the National Institutes of Health years ago made work possible today on a transmission-blocking vaccine.
- A flexible research program is important, according to Myron Levine, Director, Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland, to eradicate both strains of malaria: P. falciparum and P. vivax. Javier Guzman, Director of Research at Policy Cures, underlined the importance of funding for diagnostics and vector control in the mixture of tools to tackle malaria, in part to deal with current or future resistance to drugs and insecticides.
- Political commitment is needed to sustain funding in tackling malaria and make these innovations possible, according to a panel of foreign aid policy makers and leaders from the United States, United Kingdom, and Africa. Raj Shah, Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development stressed that the justification for increased investments in fighting malaria must be from a national security and economic perspective.
In closing today, the Forum highlighted the efforts of industry partners and their investments in malaria, including GlaxoSmithKline, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd., Bayer Environmental Science, and Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Several of these companies expressed the view that the focus of the earlier Forum on the grand challenge of malaria eradication laid the groundwork for building enthusiasm and progress within their organizations. Bernard Leroux, Head of Innovation, Bayer Environmental Science expressed how undesirable he believed it would be to stop the manufacturing of their life-saving products now when so much has been accomplished.
The original post can be read here. Yesterday's forum highlights can be read here.