MIDRP Overview History & Achievements Current Research Efforts External Programs

Program Overview:
Throughout history, outbreaks of malaria have often been associated with warfare, migrations, and other societal disruptions. More soldiers have been lost to malaria than to bullets in every 20th century war that has taken place in malaria-endemic regions. Military personnel and travelers remain at significant risk of malaria-related disease and death. In the armed forces, within the past three years there have been nine cases of severe and complicated malaria of soldiers or marines returning from West Africa. A Special Forces soldier returning from Nigeria died in 2001. Of 225 marines deployed to Monrovia, Liberia for two weeks, there were eighty cases of Plasmodium falciparum malaria, out of which five were severe and complicated cases. During the past ten years, a total of 1021 cases were reported in US troops. We continue to face the threat of malaria in long-term deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq where there have been 42 cases of Plasmodium vivax malaria. Throughout the world, malaria contributes to 3 million deaths and up to 500 million acute clinical cases each year most of them in children under the age of five. Malaria is caused by five species of the parasitic protozoan Plasmodium that infect human red blood cells - P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae and P. knowlesi. The MIDRP focuses research efforts on two of the protozoan species responsible for the vast majority of human malaria infections - P. falciparum and P. vivax. Falciparum malaria is the major type of malaria and occurs in sub-saharan Africa, where 90% of the world's malaria cases occur. Falciparum malaria is a serious illness characterized by fever, headache, and weakness. Plasmodium vivax also causes a debilitating illness characterized by spells of chills, fever and weakness. This illness generally lasts 10-14 days, and is self-limiting in nature. Although FDA-approved drugs are available to prevent and treat malaria at the present time, these drugs are finding decreased utility due to the rapid emergence of drug-resistance strains in several regions of the world. Additionally, current drugs used to treat malaria have undesirable side effects. Another problem is that the current drugs are approved for a maximum of six months while deployment standards have increased to 12 months.

The primary objective of the MIDRP anti-malarial drug program is to provide drug-based solutions to prevent or minimize the morbidity and mortality caused by malaria in US military forces. This Program Area seeks to discover, develop and transition to advanced development effective and safe malaria prevention and treatment chemotherapeutics. Research in this Program Area is aimed at identifying new drugs (Drug Discovery, Target Selection and Validation) and optimization of the newly-discovered drugs into FDA approved products (Antimalarial Drug Lead identification and Optimization). Program Area support is provided by Cheminformatics, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Development Support.

Malaria Drugs | Malaria Vaccines | Leishmaniasis