History of the MR4

 History of the MR4

The Malaria Research and Reference Reagent Resource Center (MR4) was developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) as an outgrowth of the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM), a federation of agencies involved in malaria research, control, and development assistance. At the International Conference on Malaria in Africa, held in Dakar in January, 1997, the issue of creating reagent repositories was raised. Specifically, scientists engaged in malaria research stated a need for: 1) improved access to parasite, vector, and human reagents; and 2) standardization of assays using well-characterized and renewable reagents.

In response to this stated need, NIAID made the commitment to establish a malaria reagent resource center for use by qualified investigators worldwide. A planning meeting was held in November, 1997, to gather ideas from investigators on how the new malaria resource center should function. A report and recommendations of the planning committee can be found in the archives of the NIAID Malaria website.

In September 1998, a seven-year contract was awarded to the American Type Culture Collection in Manassas, Virginia, to establish the Malaria Research and Reference Reagent Resource Center (MR4). This award includes a subcontract to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation to provide anopheline reagents.  Funding for the MR4 was again awarded to ATCC in 2005 to grow and maintain the Resource Center, and over 600 laboratories worldwide have used the Resource Center.  In January 2011, MR4 became part of the BEI Resources program.

An international Scientific Advisory Committee provides oversight of the MR4's operations, helps prioritize reagent acquisition and training needs, and acts as a liaison to the malaria community.

The purpose of the MR4 is to provide a centralized resource for research reagents to the scientific community that can be used as reference standards or to generate new renewable reagents. Generally speaking, reagents cannot be provided in bulk quantities. There is no charge for reagents. Types of reagents maintained by the Resource Center include:

  • Parasites: Plasmodium spp. parasites (cloned, uncloned, genetically manipulated, etc.)
  • Proteins:  Plasmodium recombinant proteins, synthetic peptides, antigens
  • Molecular biology reagents: libraries, clones, plasmids, oligonucleotides, DNAs, etc.
  • Immunologic reagents:  polyclonal antisera, monoclonal antibodies, hybridoma cell lines
  • Mosquitoes:  Anopheles spp and mosquito-related molecular reagents
  • Special projects and acquisitions

Benefits to the Malaria Research Community

Depositor Benefits

The benefits the MR4 provides to malaria research community investigators who deposit their materials in the collection are numerous.  Through this program, MR4:

  1. Reduces the burden of distribution requests for reagents, including management and coordination of transportation and regulatory permits.
  2. Provides safe long term archival storage of their important reagent stocks.
  3. Provides accessioned scientific information regarding the reagent on the web.
  4. Provides authentication and quality control for reagents amplified and tested at MR4.
  5. Preserves the intellectual property and ownership of the depositor materials as designated through the deposit process.
  6. Promotes investigator research and requires citation of depositor reagents upon publication or presentation by other users.
  7. Helps investigators fulfill NIH and other funding organization requirements for sharing of biological research materials and data.

MR4 Registered User Benefits

The benefits the MR4 provides to malaria research community investigators who request materials through the repository program or utilize the resource center for information are numerous.  Through this program, MR4:

  1. Increases access to renewable reagents by the malaria research community world-wide.
  2. Provides quality controlled, authenticated materials at lowest available passage to ensure viable, pure and validated stock is distributed.
  3. Provides reference information, citations, links and protocols for reagent use.
  4. Generates and accessions new reagents or derivatives
  5. Supports workshops and training activities
  6. Promotes openness and collaboration among user base
  7. Receives and responds to community input regarding:
    1. Reagent needs and prioritization
    2. Characterization requirements and quality control
    3. Proprietary and ethical issues
    4. Training and technology transfer needs
    5. Access to information, publicity, outreach activities of the Resource Center and the MIM.