Memorandum from Dr R J M Wilson and Dr
D H Williamson, National Institute for Medical Research
1. The executive of the MRC insist that
basic, translational and clinical research must now cohabit. Here
is an example of recent research at NIMR that has come to fruition
without the need for such a juxtaposition.
2. Malaria is an international disease and
a global problem. It touches on several continents, it is important
in military interventions and it affects many British people by
their movements around the world. In these respects, malaria is
an international problem just as much as cancer or heart disease.
The solution requires international collaboration.
3. At Mill Hill we recently discovered,
out of blue-sky research, that malaria parasites have a novel
organelle of plant origin. Suddenly this explained why certain
antibiotics are active against malaria in the clinic. More importantly
it opened up insight into bacterial biochemistry inside the human
parasite that was previously unsuspected. International trials
of modified antibiotics in malarious patients now show promise
for the advent of a new array of antimalarial drugs. This advance
has come about because our lead was taken up by an interested
and responsive international community of researchers. Affiliation
with a local hospital in London did not enter the picture. It
was not necessary.
4. The MRC's "vision" has a limited
perspective compared to the reality of modern day science.
3 November 2004