The burden of disease due to malaria remains a major public health problem in tropical countries with the greater burden affecting Africa. This problem has resulted to unacceptably high levels of sickness and deaths. In Kenya, this burden compounds the huge financial burden in the already fragile economies with major socioeconomic challenges.
The war against the disease waged at various levels faces many persistent challenges most notable of which is development of resistance to drugs used to kill the malaria causing parasite and its insect vectors. Nanotechnology as applied to medicine formulation i.e. nanomedicine, provides great opportunity to reformulate antimalarials so that they are more effective and easier to adhere to their administration schedule thereby preventing or slowing down the development of drug resistance.
The Centre for Research in Therapeutic Sciences (CREATES), Strathmore University and its partner, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of South Africa conducted its 2nd Annual Workshop on Nanomedicine in Malaria from the 24th to the 28th of February 2014 at the Strathmore University.
CREATES is spearheading research in this area by developing new biocompatible drug delivery matrices that can target specific biological compartments in the body and release their drug payload in a predictable sustained fashion. Such systems offer great advantage in enhancing drug effectiveness through selective delivery of the right dose of drug to the target thereby reducing the total amount of drug required and hence improving safety. The workshop intended to bring together researchers and students to address current developments in the area of nanomedicine in malaria. A number of experts in this field including a strong delegation from CSIR South Africa were present at the workshop.
Themes for this years workshop included:
- Nanomedicine activities at CREATES and CSIR
- Nanoformulation Strategy in improvement of drugs for infectious diseases
- Preclinical and clinical stages requirements for antimalarial drug development
- Novel ideas in drug formulation/encapsulation
- Current antimalarials, challenges and potentials of nanomedicine
- Drug delivery systems and formulation synthesis
- Laboratory demonstration of the in vivo and in vitro efficacy studies
The outcomes of this workshop will allow continued work towards improving the underperformances of current malaria treatment via the application of nanomedicine. The ability to conduct such studies in Kenya and Africa at large will certainly increase the international capacity to improve efficacy of antimalarials in populations who are most at risk of contracting malaria. This would help us as a region to influence the research agenda, operate independently and to exercise ownership over key research pertinent to our health priorities.