Leading researchers discuss scientific advances on World Malaria Day

Top scientists gathered in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to emphasize the progress being made in efforts to treat and prevent malaria for World Malaria Day.

Malaria No More, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the mosquito-borne disease, brought 20 scientists to Capitol Hill to demonstrate cutting-edge research. On average, malaria kills one child in Africa each minute of every day, VOA News reports.

"The idea of a child of ours or a child of a friend of ours dying is almost thankfully an unimaginable tragedy," David Bowen, the head of Malaria No More, said, according to VOA News. "And the fact that that happens once a minute across the world, principally in Africa, is almost impossible to conceive of and yet, that's the fact."

Brian Grimberg, one of the researchers, is the head of a $7.9 million global research effort to develop and test new malaria therapies. Grimberg said that scientists are studying a newly discovered compound that kills the parasite that causes malaria in mice. Grimberg's team uses computer-assisted molecular modeling to identify new vaccine candidates.

"One of our lead ones is actually a leukemia drug, a (blood) cancer drug that was originally developed to treat different kinds of leukemia," Grimberg said, according to VOA News. "And it turns out to be pretty effective against killing the (malaria) parasites."

Because resistance is developing against current malaria drugs, finding new and more effective compounds is crucial in the battle against the disease. Other research at the meeting included using genetic engineering to prevent mosquitoes from becoming infected at all so the disease can't be spread to humans.