Dr Kesinee Chotivanich heads the Malaria laboratory at MORU. This laboratory provides facilities and resources to researchers, students, and collaborators who are interested in tropical diseases, with the aim to improve patients’ care. Areas of interest include the pathophysiology of malaria, host-parasite interaction, pharmacodynamics of antimalarial drugs, mechanism of antimalarial drug resistance, and development of diagnostic tools.
More effective diagnosis and treatments are needed to reduce the morbidity and mortality affecting malaria patients. Researchers at the Malaria Laboratory at MORU study the pathophysiology of the disease, and test new compound drugs for anti-malarial activity. In the context of growing artemisinin resistance, this research will have a global impact.
Ultimately, medical research must translate into improved treatments for patients. At the Nuffield Department of Medicine, our researchers collaborate to develop better health care, improved quality of life, and enhanced preventative measures for all patients. Our findings in the laboratory are translated into changes in clinical practice, from bench to bedside.
Kesinee Chotivanich: Malaria is one of the neglected diseases, and it’s a disease of poor people. If you would like to reduce the morbidity or mortality of patients you need to treat them effectively, with effective diagnosis and treatment.
One of the key factors to eliminate malaria is to kill the parasites. To do that, you have to know where they are. Even in low levels or in asymptomatic cases you have to know where the parasites are in order to kill them. To prevent the transmission from people to people, we need to stop the transmission between the mosquito (the vector) and people.
So all this you need to know. Which drug will be very effective in all steps of malaria transmission. We are interested in the pathophysiology of malaria, in the factors that affect the severity of the disease. We try to see how we can protect, or help to decrease the chance to get severe malaria. Also the anti-malaria drug activity: we first screen and try to see any anti-malarial activities of new compounds, by screening to see if they help treat anti-malaria drug resistance. Because in this region (Thailand) we have a problem with multi drug resistance. That means we need new anti-malarial drugs or new treatment regimens urgently.
Q: Why does your line of research matter and why should we fund it?
KC: The hot topic is artemisinin resistance. Our group is the first to develop a new methodology to detect artemisinin-resistant parasites. We have a chance to look at new anti-malarial drugs to see if they can be used in the context of anti-malarial drug resistance in the future. To help them, to improve patient's care and to eliminate malaria, we need support. And the support should go to the people who have high capability to make high quality research and impact health policy. All the funding that goes to our group will help not only the people who have a malaria infection but will also help people everywhere.