New malaria vaccine passes a critical milestone

A new malaria vaccine, developed by a US-based team, passed an important milestone using genetically modified parasites.

© Sanofi Pasteur at Flickr

A new vaccine shows promising results to accelerate progress in fighting the disease that has killed an estimated 438,000 people worldwide in 2015. Published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the trials suggested that the vaccine was safe and had a positive immune response.

According to the World Malaria Report 2015 of the World Health Organization, malaria mortality rates decreased by 66% in Africa since 2000, and the results of this new vaccine is deemed to be imperative to further decrease this rate.

Sebastian Mikolajczak, one of the project researchers, described the test results as “critical milestones for malaria vaccine development”.

Quartz reported that researchers infected people with weakened, genetically modified forms of the parasite causing malaria (Plasmodium falciparum) to expose their immune system to the disease and stimulate a response that could block an actual infection.

Out of the ten people tested during trials, there were no cases of full malaria infection and no records of significant side-effects.

According to the BBC, Sebastian Mikolajczak also said: “The clinical study now shows that the vaccine is completely attenuated in humans and also shows that even after only a single administration, it elicits a robust immune response against the malaria parasite.”

The prospect of an effective malaria vaccine is great news but further studies are necessary to prove its protective efficacy.

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