April 25 brings the global malaria community together to celebrate World Malaria Day. Despite advances in lowering the global burden of malaria over the last two decades, progress in the fight against the disease has stalled in recent years, particularly in high-burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2021, there were an estimated 247 million malaria cases worldwide, with the African region alone accounting for 95% of these.

By Luke Alphey, Alphey Lab, University of York

Research on gene drive technologies as a tool to control mosquitoes that are vectors of disease has produced promising results. Although field trials are likely still some way off, researchers have for example been able to develop efficient gene drive systems in the mosquitoes Anopheles stephensi and Anopheles gambiae, which are both vectors of malaria.

However, attempts to develop similarly efficient gene drive systems in the Aedes aegypti mosquito – which transmits dengue, Zika and yellow fever – have so far proven challenging. While studies in this realm have provided proof-of-principle, they have also demonstrated the need to improve efficiency of the underlying molecular components before these tools could be considered for practical implementation.

By Rebeca Carballar-Lejarazú, University of California Malaria Initiative (UCMI)

Malaria continues to be one of the world’s most serious infectious diseases, claiming the lives of over half a million people every year. Although countries around the world largely held the line against further setbacks to malaria prevention and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight against malaria is still at a precarious juncture. Efforts to curb the spread of the disease face a convergence of threats, particularly in the African Region, which accounted for 96% of deaths in 2021.

In the face of stalled progress, research into the development of new strategies for the prevention, treatment and control of malaria is essential. Emerging technologies such as synthetic gene drive systems offer the potential to modify or suppress vector mosquito populations and could provide a promising approach to help reduce the burden of the disease.

The African Genetic Biocontrol Consortium is calling for abstract submissions for the 1st Global Congress on New and Emerging Genetic Biocontrol Technologies, which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from August 28 to September 2, 2023. The congress will bring together experts from around the world to exchange knowledge and share learnings across diverse disciplines related to genetic biocontrol technologies through courses, workshops, presentations, and symposia.

The main theme of the event will be “Emerging genetic biocontrol technologies: progress made in the science, research, testing, and environmental release of experimental genetically modified biocontrol products”. The organization is calling for proposals centered around this theme and will be accepting abstracts until Saturday, April 15.

The Pan-African Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA) is accepting abstract submissions ahead of the 9th edition of its Annual Conference and Exhibition. The organization is calling for proposals exploring topics related to vector control and this year’s meeting’s main theme: “Reorienting surveillance and management in the context of emerging threats of disease vectors”. The deadline for submissions is March 31.

Image: PAMCA