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“大挑战:户外疟疾媒介控制”合作研究项目审批结果公布

“大挑战:户外疟疾媒介控制”合作研究项目审批结果公布

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中国国家自然科学基金委员会(以下简称 “自然科学基金委” )和比尔及梅琳达·盖茨基金会(以下简称 “盖茨基金会” )今天公布 “大挑战:户外疟疾媒介控制” 合作研究项目审批结果,共有六个来自国内高校和科研机构的疟疾媒介控制研究方案入选。这些方案的合作伙伴分别来自布基纳法索、美国、荷兰和苏丹等国家。


“大挑战:户外疟疾媒介控制”是自然科学基金委和盖茨基金会于2015年共同成立的“中国大挑战”系列项目之一,旨在号召国际合作开发疟疾传播媒介控制的创新解决方案,发现并培育户外疟疾媒介控制的策略、技术、工具和产品,以加快实现在全球范围内消除疟疾的目标。


2021年《世界疟疾报告》数据显示,2020年全球约有2.41亿疟疾病例,导致了62.7万例死亡,其中约95%的疾病负担都发生在非洲。媒介控制是疟疾防控必不可少的重要方面,主要措施包括扩大药浸蚊帐和长效药浸蚊帐的使用,以及加强室内滞留喷洒。虽然绝大部分的疟疾传播发生在室内,但疟疾的户外传播问题令人日益担忧,亟需更多投入来推动科学和技术上的突破。


经过公开征集,双方共收到19份有效项目申请。根据研究方案的创新性、技术路径以及在疟疾流行国家和地区的可应用性、可负担性和可推广性,结合项目团队的科研能力和研究基础,经过中外专家联合评审,双方最终共同宣布六项来自中科院及国内高校的疟疾媒介控制研究方案通过审批。每个获批项目将获得自然科学基金委和盖茨基金会总计不超过300万元人民币的联合资助。


获批项目简介如下:


● “利用按蚊天然抗疟共生菌阻断疟疾传播”研究项目拟把天然抗疟共生菌引入到按蚊群体中,使得疟疾的媒介传播失效。此新型的媒介控制方法已经有实验室数据显示其有效性。研究项目将开发高效的细菌引入的方法,将该细菌引入到按蚊群体中,以评估在实际场景中细菌在蚊群中的传播以及阻断疟原虫传播的有效性。


● “高效实时户外疟疾媒介蚊虫诱捕监测技术和装置研发”项目计划筛选疟疾媒介蚊虫高效诱引物质,研发红外检测、自动记录和无线传输技术,并研制实时高效的诱捕装置并进行实验室和现场效果测试,以掌握蚊虫种群密度、日常活动和季节消长规律,为户外疟疾媒介监测和控制提供科学指引和技术手段。


● “基于中药源的媒介生物传染病防控技术及产品开发”项目将结合计算机预测及筛选手段,开展中药源蚊媒驱杀化合物开发,获得至少一种新型安全、环保、高效的蚊媒驱杀虫剂并开发其相应的户外蚊媒防控技术或产品。新型蚊媒驱杀剂的开发将有助于解决媒介控制领域杀虫剂的抗药问题,加速全球疟疾消除进程。


● “户外诱杀蚊虫的真菌杀虫剂及其释放装置的研发和应用研究”项目针对现有真菌杀虫剂和释放装置仅能防控户内蚊虫的局限,拟参考曾在中国广泛应用的手工作坊式的孢子生产工艺,研制成本低廉、技术门槛低的新型真菌杀虫剂以及与之配套的防蚊装置,用于控制户外蚊虫。


● “户外杀蚊真菌农药研制”项目将从全球杀蚊菌株资源中选育高产、对幼虫和成虫高毒力、稳定的杀蚊真菌生产菌株,开展菌株安全性测试,优化固体发酵培养基和发酵工艺,研究油基杀蚊真菌制剂组分和配比,开发具有大规模生产潜力的杀蚊真菌油基制剂,以克服目前主要采用化学杀虫剂防治户外媒介蚊虫而引起的环境污染和蚊虫抗药性等问题。


● “研发昆虫不育技术用于控制城市疟疾媒介斯氏按蚊”项目旨在通过特异性强和环境友好型的昆虫不育技术,控制城市疟疾媒介斯氏按蚊,并评估技术安全性,形成昆虫不育技术控制斯氏按蚊的系统性技术集成,为后续在苏丹及其他非洲、亚洲国家开展户外疟疾媒介控制的现场试验提供科学依据和技术支撑。


消除疟疾是盖茨基金会的重要工作之一。盖茨基金会在推动继续扩大使用现有工具的同时,致力于持续开发并加速引入新的工具和解决方案,确保有效应对不断进化的疟原虫和传播疟疾的蚊子,实现全球消除疟疾的目标。


通过资助“大挑战:户外疟疾媒介控制”项目,自然科学基金委和盖茨基金会致力于鼓励中国科学家开展国际合作研究,利用全球合作的力量促进创新,进而帮助仍受疟疾威胁的国家尽早实现消除目标。


自然科学基金委也通过其官网发布了本次“大挑战:户外疟疾媒介控制”合作研究项目的审批结果通告(https://www.nsfc.gov.cn/publish/portal0/tab1362/info87246.htm)。了解更多项目信息,可访问盖茨基金会“大挑战”官网(https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/challenge/outdoor-malaria-vector-control)。


关于中国国家自然科学基金委员会


中国国家自然科学基金委员会是由科学技术部管理,依法管理国家自然科学基金,相对独立运行的机构。自然科学基金委将国际合作作为优先事项,致力于通过国际合作推动科研进步,为中国科学家营造有利氛围,在世界科学界发挥更大作用。


关于比尔及梅琳达∙盖茨基金会


秉承所有生命价值平等的信念,比尔及梅琳达·盖茨基金会致力于帮助人们过上健康而富有成效的生活。在发展中国家,基金会主要致力于提高人民的健康水平,使他们有机会摆脱饥饿和极端贫困。在美国,基金会致力于确保所有人——特别是拥有资源最少的人——有机会在学习和生活中取得成功。基金会总部设在美国西雅图,在联席主席比尔·盖茨和梅琳达·弗兰奇·盖茨,以及理事会的指导下,由首席执行官马克·苏斯曼管理。  


关于大挑战系列项目


“大挑战”是2003年比尔及梅琳达·盖茨基金会推出的系列项目,旨在解决全球健康与发展进程中的关键问题,服务最需要帮助的人。项目以挑战赛的形式公开征集提案,以吸引关注和扩大影响。“中国大挑战”是继“加拿大大挑战”、“巴西大挑战”、“印度大挑战”及“非洲大挑战”之后的又一“大挑战”项目。自2015年推出以来,“中国大挑战”项目已为多个研究项目提供支持,涵盖结核病药物和疫苗的创新研究,旨在缩短结核病疗程的临床试验以及基于结构的艾滋病疫苗设计等工作。


The National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates Foundation) today announced six winning research proposals for the joint Grand Challenges program on outdoor malaria vector control from Chinese universities and research institutes – in collaboration with partners from Burkina Faso, the United States, Netherland and Sudan.


The program, as part of the Grand Challenges China initiative co-established by NSFC and the Gates Foundation in 2015, called for international cooperation to develop innovative solutions for malaria vector control, focusing on outdoor vector control strategies, technologies, tools and products, with the goal of accelerating progress toward malaria eradication.


According to the 2021 World Malaria Report, there were an estimated 241 million malaria cases and 627,000 deaths globally in 2020, with Africa bearing about 95 percent of the disease burden. Vector control is an essential component of malaria prevention, with the scale-up of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) or long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), and expansion of indoor residual spraying (IRS) as key contributing factors. While the majority of malaria transmission occurs indoors, there are increasing concerns around the magnitude of outdoor transmission, where more investment in scientific and technological breakthroughs is much needed.


A total of 19 eligible proposals were received during the application period. A review process was then led by a panel of Chinese and international experts, who evaluated each proposal’s innovativeness, technical route, as well as their applicability, affordability and scalability for malaria endemic countries. Each project team’s overall research capabilities and track record were also taken into consideration. Eventually, six proposals from the Chinese Academy of Science and Chinese universities were selected. Each winning proposal will receive funding of up to RMB 3,000,000, to be jointly provided by NSFC and the foundation.


The winning proposals are as follows: 


Reducing malaria transmission by populating mosquitoes with a naturally occurring anti-Plasmodial symbiotic bacterium. Introducing anti-Plasmodial symbiotic bacteria into mosquito populations can potentially transform mosquitoes into ineffective vector. This unconventional approach has already shown promise in the laboratory. This project aims to develop procedures to efficiently introduce a specific bacterium into field mosquitoes, in order to evaluate effectiveness of the bacterium spread through mosquito populations and to block parasite transmission in a more realistic setting.


Developing effective, real-time outdoor malaria vector trapping and surveillance tool. The project aims to develop new traps that are more attractive to malaria vectors, incorporate the new traps with infrared vector detection, automatic recording and wireless transmission technologies, as well as to test the efficacy of the new trap and automated malaria vector surveillance apparatus in the laboratory and in the field. This novel, real-time malaria vector surveillance tool can help efficiently monitor biting behavior, population abundance and transmission dynamics of malaria vectors, and tremendously enhance malaria transmission surveillance and facilitate the evaluation of new vector control measures targeting outdoor malaria vectors.


Developing outdoor mosquito insecticide or repellent technology and products based on traditional Chinese medicine compounds. Based on the results from a previous project supported by the Gates Foundation, the project utilizes in silico screening to discover mosquito insecticide or repellent compounds in traditional Chinese medicine. At least one safe, environmentally friendly and efficient novel mosquito insecticide or repellent insecticide will be obtained, which will then be used to further develop outdoor vector control technology or products. The development of such mosquito insecticide or repellent compounds will help address drug resistance issue, and accelerate the global malaria elimination process.


Developing and applying mycoinsecticides and release devices targeted for outdoor mosquito control. Currently, mycoinsecticides and their release devices are only suitable for indoor mosquito control. By referring to the widely used small farmer-operated factories for production of entomopathogenic fungal spores in China, this project aims to develop a spore production technology for the transgenic Metarhizium strain, which is a cost-effective with low technological bar, and can be easily translated in low-and middle-income countries and regions. A novel bifunctional device will also be provided for outdoor mosquito control.


Developing fungal mosquitocides for outdoor application. The project plans to screen mosquitocidal fungal strains from China and abroad for high-yield virulent and stable production strains against larvae and adult, test the safety of the production strains, optimize solid fermentation medium, fermentation process and the components and proportion in the formulation to develop oil-based fungal mosquitocides for outdoor application. This will help address issues including mosquito resistance and environmental pollution caused by massive use of chemical insecticides


Using Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) to control Anopheles mosquitoes and prevent malaria transmission in urban setting. The project aims to develop highly specific and environmentally friendly SIT to control outdoor Anopheles mosquitoes.  Once the feasibility evaluation is passed, the results will form a systematic technical package of SIT to control Anopheles stephensi, and provide scientific basis and technical support for subsequent field trials of SIT to control this outdoor malaria vector in African countries such as Sudan or other Asian countries.


Malaria eradication is a top priority of the Gates Foundation. While continuing to expand the use of existing tools, the foundation is also committed to continuously developing and accelerating introduction of new tools and solutions that are essential to staying ahead of the malaria parasite and mosquito that transmits it and achieving the eradication goal.


By funding the joint Grand Challenges program on outdoor malaria vector control, NSFC and Gates Foundation aim to encourage cooperation between Chinese scientists and their international peers, and to harness the power of global collaboration to catalyze innovations for the benefit of countries that continue to be threatened by malaria.


NSFC also announced the program result on its website(https://www.nsfc.gov.cn/publish/portal0/tab1362/info87246.htm). More information is available on the Gates Foundation-sponsored Global Grand Challenges website(https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/challenge/outdoor-malaria-vector-control).


About the National Natural Science Foundation of China


Tasked with the administration of the National Natural Science Fund from the Central Government, NSFC is an institution managed by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) but keeping its due independence in operation. International collaboration has become a priority for NSFC. NSFC aims to advance research through international collaborations, and cultivate a favorable environment for Chinese scientists to play a greater role in the global scientific community.


About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation  


Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman, under the direction of Co-chairs Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates and the board of trustees.  


About Grand Challenges


Launched in 2003 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems for those most in need. It uses challenges – launched as open requests for grant proposals – to focus attention and efforts for impact. Grand Challenges China is part of the Grand Challenges family, joining other members including Grand Challenges Canada, Brazil, India, and Africa, among others. Since its launch in 2015, GC China has supported four research projects that contributed to progresses on tuberculosis vaccine design, clinical trial to shorten tuberculosis treatment period, and HIV vaccine design.

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