Tammi Freehling | September 21, 2017
University of Notre Dame biologist Michael Ferdig, Ph.D., is leading a new $11.5 million program project (P01) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Ferdig and his team at Notre Dame are partnering with researchers at the Center for Infectious Disease Research (CID Research) in Seattle and Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TBRI) to better understand the genes in the malaria parasite that are responsible for drug resistance and virulence in order to reduce and ultimately eliminate the often deadly disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes malaria as a major global health threat that disproportionately affects middle- and low-income countries. According to WHO, 212 million people suffered with the disease in 2015 and 438,000 died. Malaria is preventable and curable, and the widespread use of the drug artemisinin (ART) has been a key factor in significant reductions in infections and death. However, a recent rise in resistance to ART in Southeast Asia poses an imminent risk to ongoing global efforts to combat malaria.
The spread of resistant strains to sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria remains endemic, with the highest mortality rates worldwide, would have devastating impact. Such catastrophic drug failure would replicate a similar disaster seen in the late 1950s and early 1960s with the drug chloroquine (CQ).