Screening FAQ

Seattle Malaria Clinical Trials Center (Seattle MCTC)

Screening FAQ

young man using online screening tool

Photo by iStock

Is malaria still a problem?

Yes. Malaria is endemic to sub‐Saharan Africa, Central and South America and Southern Asia. Over 300 million people are diagnosed with malaria each year and about 1 million die due to lack of access to treatment. Ninety percent of malaria deaths in Africa are children under the age of 5 years.

It is also of interest that over 1,300 American travelers become ill and sometimes die from malaria while abroad or when they get home.

Do I get paid to get malaria?

No. We compensate participants for time and travel.

How much can I get paid?

Each study is unique in its design and intensity. Because of this, there are different amounts of compensation for each study, based on the number of study visits. Generally, a participant is compensated around $25 for a screening visit. If you would like to know more about a specific study’s compensation schedule, we can discuss that during your screening visit.

What happens at screening?

The screening visit is usually about 2‐3 hours. The bulk of the time is taken by reading and discussing the consent form with the clinical trial staff member. The consent form is a very detailed document that will provide all of the details regarding the study design for the trial you are screening for. You will also be given an opportunity to ask any questions that you have about the consent form or information that you may have about our studies.

If you decide to consent to participate in a trial, the clinical trial staff will review your medical history, current health and medications. A physician will perform a physical exam and may ask specific questions about your medical history, current health and medications. Your blood will be drawn for laboratory testing to ensure that you are an appropriate candidate for our trials.

What kind of tests do you do?

Each study requires different testing depending on the investigational product. In general, at screening, you will receive blood testing for baseline measures and safety information. We will also use some of your blood for research purposes, which can further our knowledge of malaria and the treatment of the disease. A physical exam is also performed and the clinical trial staff will ask you about your medical history and current health.

Will I get malaria?

It is possible you will contract malaria by participating in one of our clinical trials. After a malaria drug or vaccine candidate has been tested for safety in a small number of healthy adult volunteers, some candidates (typically those targeting the early stage of malaria infection) may undergo a challenge phase of testing called the Controlled Human Malaria Infection (CHMI) Model. This well-established model has been the mainstay of malaria vaccine and drug testing at other sites worldwide for decades. Under this model, volunteers are deliberately “challenged” with malaria through the bite of malaria-infected mosquitoes to evaluate whether or not the experimental vaccine or drug can prevent or delay malaria infection. This human challenge phase of malaria vaccine or drug development can provide researchers with valuable data to decide whether or not to move forward for testing on a much larger scale and/or in malaria endemic regions of the world.

How is malaria cured?

If you are diagnosed with malaria during the infection‐phase of the trial, you will be treated with FDA‐approved antimalarial medications. There are also backup anti‐malarial medications that are used if you have a reaction to the initial treatment.

If I participate, how sick will I get?

Most participants in our studies do not feel sick.

If I’m infected with malaria, is there any risk that I can give it to my friends or family?

No. Malaria is transmitted via the bite of a specific species of mosquito that is very rare to this area. You cannot transmit malaria through casual contact, like sitting next to someone who has malaria or through sexual contact. For this reason, you are not required to isolate yourself while infected with malaria.

I’ve heard that malaria can remain in your system and come back at a later date. Is that a possibility if I participate in one of your trials?

At the present time, we are not working with the species of parasites that have recurrence in the human body. These species are P. vivax and P. ovale, and they are only in the first stages of research at other sites that are doing malaria clinical trials. We currently only use a laboratory‐created strain of P. falciparum which is mostly found in sub‐Saharan Africa.

How do you know that the malaria I would be infected with can be cured?

The strain of malaria parasite that we are using for our clinical trials was created to be sensitive to the most common, well‐tolerated anti‐malarial therapies. In endemic countries, many of the parasite species that cause malaria have become resistant to many anti‐malaria drugs; however, we only use laboratory‐created specimens to ensure no variability in the parasites with which you would be infected.

Can I donate blood after I have had malaria?

The American Red Cross states that you may not donate blood or blood products for 3 years after you have been infected with malaria.