Genetic Approaches to Malaria Control in Africa
Eric Ochomo of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Kenya and Luc Djogbenou of the University of Abomey (UAC) in Benin will develop a curriculum to teach African scientists how to use genetic approaches to combat insecticide resistance in the fight against malaria. Malaria is a disease that kills almost 500,000 people annually, most in sub-Saharan Africa. People become infected when bitten by mosquitoes that transmit the disease-causing parasites. Insecticide treatment of bed nets and indoor areas are effective methods of disease control, but mosquitoes are becoming resistant. Varying the types of insecticides used and applying them in different combinations can help fight resistance, but it's difficult to know the most effective approach before resistance develops without the help of genetic markers. They will teach African scientists techniques to identify genetic resistance markers including sample collection and preservation, transcriptomic and whole-genome sequencing, and bioinformatics using online and hands-on approaches. This will ensure timely changes to insecticide application to better combat resistance. They will also encourage local scientists to establish industry partnerships to ensure that resistance monitoring can continue long-term.