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Queensland human malaria testing attracts international support

The Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) is leading the way in finding new drugs to treat malaria, securing international support to expand clinical trials in Brisbane.

Lead physician and QIMR researcher, Professor James McCarthy said the world renowned Swiss-based Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) are supporting the expansion of QIMR’s clinical trials of anti-malarial drugs and vaccines.

“MMV’s support is allowing QIMR to carry out further testing of new malaria drugs on humans with increased accuracy,” Professor McCarthy said.

“Malaria is a major health issue in the developing world, and gaining this vital funding from MMV highlights the work QIMR is carrying out to better treat and manage this devastating disease.

“Malaria is responsible for up to one million deaths in Asian and African nations every year, but Australia is not immune – there are up to 600 cases here each year.

“With the support of MMV, QIMR will to continue to test emerging drugs and vaccines to treat and prevent malaria and help protect our neighbours in developing nations.”

QIMR is expanding on its ongoing trials of malaria treatments on human volunteers who are infected with low doses of malaria parasites.

Professor McCarthy said that to continue this vital trial, QIMR would require more volunteers to join the trial so researchers can look at improving anti-malarial drugs and developing vaccines, but analysing the immune response to measure the efficacy of these treatments.

“While many new drugs and vaccines are being developed it is very difficult to determine which are the best to take to areas impacted by malaria and we required volunteers’ help in better focussing potential malaria treatment regimes.

“Taking part in this trial is a way for people to make a difference to the lives of millions and participants will be closely monitored and very well cared for.

“Participants will receive a controlled sample of malaria that we have developed. This is much less than the amount that reaches the blood when someone catches malaria from a mosquito.

“The volunteers will then be closely followed using a very sensitive test that measures the DNA of malaria parasites in the blood. This allows us to treat the volunteers with antimalarial drugs before they become sick.”

The research requires healthy male and female volunteers between the ages of 18 and 45. They will receive an injection containing a very low dose of malaria.

This study is being conducted at Q-Pharm Pty Limited, a clinical trial facility based at QIMR. Q-Pharm is a joint venture with QIMR and The University of Queensland. The trial has been approved by QIMR’s Human Research Ethics Committee.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the study can contact Q-Pharm on 1300 QPHARM (1300 774 276) or Volunteers will be reimbursed for their time and closely monitored throughout the treatment.