MMV Project of the Year award - 2016

Breaking through the basic biology of malaria relapse

Three discovery teams led by Prof. Dennis Kyle, Prof. Elizabeth Winzeler and Dr Jetsumon Sattabongkot Prachumsri jointly received the MMV Project of the Year 2016 award for their impressive progress in developing new assay platforms to test compounds for activity against the liver stages of malaria. These new assays are now making it possible to screen and identify novel compounds that could stop the relapse and protect against malaria.

The relapse of Plasmodium vivax malaria is the cause of a significant burden of disease – WHO estimates it causes around 8.5 million clinical infections every year.1 Yet only one anti-relapse medicine, primaquine, is currently available with a second, tafenoquine, in development. Both these medicines are associated with potentially severe side effects in a small percentage of patients (on average 8% of people in malaria-endemic countries),2 who have a deficiency of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase.

Basic research on P. vivax has historically lagged behind that for Plasmodium falciparum partly because P. vivax parasites are difficult to access and maintain in laboratory assays. Today, thanks to a global research strategy and these new assays, this is set to change.3

 → Go to an interview with Prof. Dennis Kyle, Prof. Elizabeth Winzeler and Dr Jetsumon Sattabongkot Prachumsri. They talk about their achievements, the unique features of the assays they have developed and their plans for the future.

Prof. Dennis Kyle (left), Prof. Elizabeth Winzeler (middle) and Dr Jetsumon Sattabongkot Prachumsri (right)


  1. World Health Organization. World Malaria Report 2016 (2016).
  2. Howes RE et al. “G6PD deficiency prevalence and estimates of affected populations in malaria endemic countries: a geostatistical model-based map.” PLoS Med. 9(11):e1001339 (2012).
  3. Campo B et al. “Killing the hypnozoite–drug discovery approaches to prevent relapse in Plasmodium vivax.” Pathog Glob Health. 109(3):107-22 (2015).