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Professor Mallika Imwong

Professor Mallika Imwong

Mallika Imwong

Malariologist at Mahidol Department of Molecular Tropical Medicine and Genetics

  • Honorary Visiting Research Fellow in Tropical Medicine

My research works have focused on three aspects:

  • to understand how drug resistance emerges and spreads in malaria parasites in Asia and Africa
  • to detect and characterise the true epidemiology of malaria in low transmissions setting
  • to investigate the biology of relapse of benign malaria.

I am currently involved in surveillance studies describing the molecular epidemiology of drug resistance in different parts of the region including Thai-Burmese border, Eastern Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos PDA, and Afghanistan. A key objective is to determine the genetic and mechanistic basis for increased resistance of P. falciparum to artemisinin. The development of an inexpensive and effective genetic tool is essential for public health monitoring for artemisinin resistance.  My ongoing projects will use genotyping markers or phenotypic properties for the fitness cost alleviating genetic variants validated loci and conduct follow-up molecular epidemiological surveys to assess their prevalence throughout the GMS in the current state of transmission. Therefore, this will also allow us to assess the potential of the GMS to develop drug resistance phenotypes and to evaluate the potential that such phenotypes emerge in other parts of the malaria world (such as Africa), as control programs progress towards elimination. 

Transnational spread of multidrug resistant PfPailin

The artemisinin resistant Plasmodium falciparum C580Y lineage ( PfPailin ) was detected first in Pailin, Western Cambodia, in 2008. 2 It later acquired piperaquine resistance and spread east. 8 years later it has now reached the south of Vietnam encompassing all four countries of the Eastern Greater Mekong subregion (Imwong et al., LID, 2017)

Malaria elimination

As we aim to eliminate malaria in GMS in year 2030, we therefore need to know first who are infected and where are they? We have developed an ultra sensitive qPCR that can detect down to (LOD) 20 parasite/ mL. This is 2000 time lower than conventional microscopy detection.