A genetically-engineered form of malaria has been proven as a successful vaccine that could potentially save millions of lives, according to new human trials.
Ten human subjects were subjected to the vaccine, called PfSPZ, through the bites from as many as 200 mosquitoes.
None of the volunteers developed malaria – and they showed they had developed antibodies due to the attenuated form of the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, according to the paper in Science Translational Medicine.
The hurdle of creating safe forms of the germ that could provoke the immune response – while not conferring disease – was achieved, after years of research, according to the scientists at the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Seattle who conducted the trials.
The vaccine was developed by the Maryland-based company Sanaria. They deleted three genes in the parasite, which were targeted to provoke the immune system while stopping development of the parasite at its earliest stages, before it matures into malaria.
The vaccine was also proven effective in a group of rodents, which developed malaria immunity after exposure.
The latest study follows the initial Phase I trials, which were touted in May by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as a major breakthrough in battling the disease globally.
“A malaria vaccine that provides long-term protection is urgently needed to reduce mortality and eliminate transmission,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of NIAID, at the time. “This study is an encouraging step forward in our goal to control and ultimately eradicate malaria.”
A half-million people worldwide die each year from malaria, and an estimated 200 million are sickened annually. Millions are still not treated for malaria, mostly because the most-affected countries and regions of the world have no access to health care at all.
The WHO has recently developed a new global strategy for the disease, calling for reducing the disease’s prevalence by at least 90 percent by the year 2030.
“We must take the malaria fight to the next level,” said Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Program, in April 2015. “Moving towards elimination will require high-level political commitment and robust financing, including substantial new investments in disease surveillance, health systems strengthening and research.”
Source: Laboratory Equipment