FIRST PhD Doctor; Magellan TCHOUAKUI, a CRID first fruit

Curled from a pool of Ph.D students being mentored at the Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases (CRID) Magellan TCHOUAKUI emerges first Ph.D now a Doctor from CRID. To this effect, CRID is proud of her own very first PhD Dr. Magellan TCHOUAKUI. who successfully defended his PhD on June 16, 2020 at the University of Yaoundé I.

Under the supervision of Professor of Genetics at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine Prof Charles Wondji and Lecturer at the University of Yaoundé I Prof. Flobert NJIOKOU, Magellan built his topic “Fitness cost of metabolic resistance to insecticide in the major African malaria vector Anopheles funestus”, a research work which took off in October 2015.

As the new Doctor reveals, after a successful masters degree on “lymphatic filariasis”, he was recommended to Prof Charles WONDJI by his previous supervisor Professor Flobert NJIOKOU to work on one of the objectives of his Senior Wellcome Trust Fellowship project aiming at evaluating the impact of resistance to insecticides on the efficacy of malaria vector control tools. It is here that his success journey with CRID kicked off.

A success story is not without challenges- amongst the many challenges encountered during this thesis, Dr. TCHOUAKUI Magellan reveals that, at the beginning of his thesis, there was a need for a simple technic to detect and map the distribution of one important resistant marker on what his study was based (L119F-GSTe2 mutation) but he succeeded in designing and implementing a simple PCR-based technic for this purpose and the technic is now being used by many other researchers.

We also faced a challenge in maintaining the field strain of Anopheles funestus in the lab for more than two generations in order to analyze a potential reversal to susceptibility in the absence of insecticide. To overcome this, we used two laboratory strain for this assement” says Dr. TCHOUAKUI

Results obtained from this research were presented at various national and international conferences which helped in the publication of four (04) major research articles in reputable internationals journals.

From his research thesis, several recommendations have been made to the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) to improve malaria vector control.

wide view of defense session

We recommended to NCMP to distribute to the populations the PB0-based nets which showed a better efficacy; rotate the classes of insecticides used in vector control in order to slow the spread of resistance; implement alternative control measures such as targeting the mating swarms to control malaria vectors; finally we recommended the use of either carbamate or organophosphate insecticide for the coming Indoor Residual Spray (IRS) since the vectors were found to be highly resistant to pyrethroid insecticide which is the most use” Magellan adds

Magellan TCHOUAKUI affirms that, in pursuit of his career as researcher, he continues to as a Post-doctoral Research Assistant at CRID working in the Senior Renewal Fellowship project of Prof Charles Wondji. This project aims at Elucidating the complex evolution of insecticide resistance in the major malaria vector Anopheles funestus Africa-wide and its impact on control programmes.

The two (02) hour PhD defense ceremony was massively attended by staff from CRID who showed their love and support in various capacities as Magellan celebrated this mile stone.


Prof Charles Wondji in conversation with MESA Alliance

The Executive Director of CRID and Professor of Genetics at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine Prof Charles Wondji, on May 26, was in conversation with the MESA Alliance, a living database which captures research projects and institutions’ portfolios in malaria elimination and eradication.

The conversation with Professor Charles Wondji focused on Genetic and genomic tools to fight vector-borne diseases where he reveals in depth the importance of genetic epidemiology research in malaria surveillance and control, how genetic epidemiology can facilitate the management of insecticide resistance in Africa, how it can improve the operational decisions made by National Malaria Control Programmes, challenges researchers are faced with and the necessary steps that the malaria community could take in order to advance towards malaria elimination.

Find and read complete interview here


Vector Control and the Emergence of Resistance, Charles S. Wondji – ASTMH 2019

Malaria infection is still one of the major causes of deaths in populations of the African continent. The global tally of malaria deaths lingers around 400,000-500,000 deaths annually. Since 2000, the incidence of malaria has reduced by 17% and mortality rates by 26%, giving hopes for a possible control towards elimination. Although malaria case incidence has fallen globally since 2010, the rate of decline has stalled and even reversed in some regions. Mortality rates have followed a similar pattern. National Malaria Programs and researchers still battle a plethora of challenges ranging from case management, transmission dynamics, insecticide and drug resistance, requiring innovative approaches. Presumptive treatment is still syndromic in most health establishments

Treatment is frequently interrupted by drug stock outs and systemic dysfunctions of the health sector. With the known 450 anopheles species, of which 60 can potentially transmit malaria, resistance to insecticides has become a worrisome undertaking for malaria control programs in the face of other control program difficulties of effective interventions and environmental hygiene. Besides there is great genetic diversity and a changing epidemiology of resistant parasite populations. The malaria control programs manage these bottle necks amid weak heath systems and are still faced with malaria case management inadequacies and poor mass drug administration. Combination options such as with drugs and vaccines or the identification of the anopheline metabolic resistance biomarker in Cameroon, may provide new insights into control efforts.

These innovations, in addition to other solutions to overcome programmatic challenges, is being debated as an Africa-led leadership approach towards malaria elimination. The goal of this symposium is to provide African research leaders’ perspectives on challenges and ways to circumvent programmatic challenges for malaria elimination. The specific objectives are: i) to demonstrate the importance of a holistic approach to malaria elimination in Africa; ii) to outline the challenges encountered by National Malaria Control Programs in Africa in vector control, parasite resistance amid mass drug administration, and programmatic related issues; and iii) to propose solutions and directions for further consideration in interventions towards malaria elimination.

Listen to and download Prof Charles’ presentation at the 68th ASTMH annual meeting in Maryland, November 2019


Road to high insecticide resistance management in Uganda

Uganda presents one of three sites (Mozambique and Cameroon inclusive) with high insecticide resistance profile as research carried out by scientists at the Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases (CRID) reveal.

Under Prof Charles Wondji’s Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship project, a team of researchers from CRID have kick-started the journey of temporal monitoring of insecticide resistance escalation in Uganda. The first step was principally the collection of indoor resting mosquitoes.

Every morning for fourteen (14) days, indoor resting mosquitoes were collected using electric aspirators.  Researchers were assisted by volunteer field workers who were previously trained on this collection technique and on how to handle the mosquitoes collected.

CRID Researcher with volunteer field workers
CRID Researcher with volunteer field workers

Mosquitoes were collected in two districts in Eastern Uganda, Busia and Mayuge which were identified as sites with high density of mosquitoes.

Found in Eastern Uganda, the population of Busia and Mayuge use impregnated bed net as the major vector control tool – standard and PBO-based nets from the mass campaign of 2016-2017 were found in use in these villages.

Collected mosquitoes were made to lay eggs and were brought to the insectary for the rearing of F1 generation to be used for bioassays.

Collection of indoor resting mosquitoes
Collection of indoor resting mosquitoes

Researchers reveal that, by the end of March 2020, the first results on the resistance profiling will be known and evidence generated from this research will serve as springboard to Uganda’s National Malaria Control Programme.

“The completion of this Research will have practical implications for decisions on resistance management taken by the National Malaria Control Programme in this country and help to ensure the continues effectiveness of existing and novel insecticide-based control interventions” says Medical Entomologist on the field Magellan TCHOUAKUI.


COMAL 1st Annual Scientific meeting – the birth of a consortium

Member countries of the CO-infection with Plasmodium malariae (COMAL) project convereged in Yaoundé, Cameroon for its first general assembly. The two day annual scientific gathering brought together all four member countries: Gabon, Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon.

Apart revisiting work done by the various country teams, the meeting was also marked by intense brainstorming and generation of recommendations to boost performance, synchronise and improve scientific publications which will further improve its contribution towards eliminating malaria mainly transmitted by Plasmodium malariae.

full section of members in attendance
full section of members in attendance

With the re-emergence of non-falciparum infection like P. malariae, there is need to strengthen capacity and build a strong consortium network which will rapidly generate evidence to speedup the elimination of this vector.

In response to challenge of malaria and little information available on P. malariae, the COMAL project seeks to understand Plasmodium malariae parasite survival strategies to rationally design whole-parasite candidate vaccines.

For sustainability and continuity, the COMAL project which was birth in 2018, has recruited at least Post Doc and PhD student from each of the four countries. And each team is coordinated by the country’s Principal Investigator.