18 August 2010.
Today at the XIIth International Congress of Parasitology (ICOPA XII) Andy Waters, head of the European Virtual Institute for Malaria Research (EVIMalaR) will tell us how a global network of scientists will tackle the biggest human parasite problem, malaria.
EVIMalaR, with formal links to its Australian equivalent OzEMalaR, brings together over 80 of the world’s leading research groups devoted to understanding malaria and finding new ways to control it.
Andy said, “Malaria is a global problem with no single solution. A large, but sometimes disjointed, research community is addressing the problem, but more collaboration is vital. OzEMalaR will link 34 Australian labs with 47 European, African & Indian malaria researchers.”
Geoff Mc Fadden, head of OzEMalaR said, "We are funding collaborative exchanges of Australian malaria researchers and EviMalaR researchers to share knowledge, equipment and ideas. This is also a great way for young researchers to broaden their horizons and develop career opportunities."
Louis Schofield, director of the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance said, “Malaria needs a two-pronged approach – we need new and better drugs and vaccines to control this devastating disease.”
The world’s best parasitologists are gathering in Melbourne to present and debate the latest cutting-edge research into parasites of humans and other animals and how they are helping to combat disease.
Want to talk to any of 2000 experts from 94 countries about worms, lice, ticks, scabies, malaria and other tropical diseases? They will be at the XIIth International Congress of Parasitology (ICOPA XII) at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from August 15th until 20th 2010.
Over 2,000 of the world’s leading scientists in this area will be attending ICOPA XII and the theme of this Congress is “Understanding the global impact of parasites-from genomes to function and disease”.
Speakers at the Congress will include:
• Sir Gustav Nossal, University of Melbourne, Australia – Global Human Health
• Professor Jonathan Carapetis, Menzies Institute, Australia – Indigenous Health
• Dr Simon Brooker, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – Using Global Geographic Information Systems To Map Parasites
• Dr Abdoulaye Djimde, University of Bamako, Mali – Global Malaria
• Dr Marshall Lightowlers, University of Melbourne – Vaccines Against Worms In Humans And Animals
• Dr Dominique Soldati, University of Geneva – Invasion Of Parasites Into Host Cells
• Dr Banchob Sripa, Khon Kaen University – The Role Of Worm Infections In Liver Cancer
• Dr Debra Woods, Pfizer USA – Development Of New Drugs To Worm Infections
• Dr Janine Caira, University of Connecticut, USA – Biodiversity Of Parasites In Marine Environments
• Dr Shing Chang, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Geneva and Professor, Dr Marcel Tanner, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Geneva - Drug discovery & neglected diseases.
• Dr Jean-Rene Kiechel, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Geneva -Global Malaria and how ASMQ, a new combination treatment, will help to combat malaria resistance in SE Asia.
• Dr Rob Don, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Geneva, Professor Andy Thompson, Murdoch University, Perth & Dr Martine Keenan, Head of Drug Discovery Team, Epichem, Perth - The 'silent assasin': how an Australian drug discovery team is taking on a beady-eyed bug from Latin America.
About neglected infectious diseases
Neglected infectious diseases are those that “disproportionately affect poor and marginalised populations” (World Health Organisation). Included amongst them are diseases such as African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), leishmaniasis, malaria, schistosomiasis caused by parasites and a host of parasites that cause diarrhoea like hookworms, Giardia, Cryptosporidium and Entamoeba.
Parasitic diseases are, historically, difficult to control. There is a lot of drug resistance, the organisms are complicated, it seems like it takes a long time for people to develop immunity to these diseases and so it is hard to develop vaccines for them.
Together, these diseases cause at least 2 million deaths per year and result in the loss of over 100 million years of healthy life due to premature death and disability. There is a growing suspicion that these figures are gross underestimates. Malaria is the biggest offender killing between 1 and 3 million people per year, mostly children under 5 years of age; but diseases caused by worm parasites (like hookworms, schistosomes and others) result in the loss of nearly 50 million years of healthy life.
The world’s researchers – including Australia’s – are certainly doing their bit to help and will be presenting their latest research findings at ICOPA XII.
For more information check the following links: ICOPA XII; EVIMalaR; OzEMalaR
For more information about parasites check the ASP website
For more information about Parasitic disease check the CDC website
For more information, parasite images, or to arrange an interview with scientists represented at ICOPA XII contact Lisa Jones 040 5620 747 or email Lisa.Jones@uts.edu.au