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Multidisciplinary Investigations of Sustained Malaria Transmission in the Greater Mekong Subregion

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In the course of malaria elimination in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), malaria epidemiology has experienced drastic spatiotemporal changes with residual transmission concentrated along international borders and the rising predominance of Plasmodium vivax. The emergence of Plasmodium falciparum parasites resistant to artemisinin and partner drugs renders artemisinin-based combination therapies less effective while the potential spread of multidrug-resistant parasites elicits concern. Vector behavioral changes and insecticide resistance have reduced the effectiveness of core vector control measures. In recognition of these problems, the Southeast Asian International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR) has been conducting multidisciplinary research to determine how human migration, antimalarial drug resistance, vector behavior, and insecticide resistance sustain malaria transmission at international borders. These efforts allow us to comprehensively understand the ecology of border malaria transmission and develop population genomics tools to identify and track parasite introduction. In addition to employing in vivo, in vitro, and molecular approaches to monitor the emergence and spread of drug-resistant parasites, we also use genomic and genetic methods to reveal novel mechanisms of antimalarial drug resistance of parasites. We also use omics and population genetics approaches to study insecticide resistance in malaria vectors and identify changes in mosquito community structure, vectorial potential, and seasonal dynamics. Collectively, the scientific findings from the ICEMR research activities offer a systematic view of the factors sustaining residual malaria transmission and identify potential solutions to these problems to accelerate malaria elimination in the GMS.

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