Whole-parasite vaccine shows strong promise in battling malaria

A malaria vaccine that uses the entire malaria parasite has for the first time proven safe and shown promise to produce a strong immune response in a clinical trial.

The vaccine is unique in that it employs the entire malaria parasite, while most experimental malaria vaccines consist of just one or at most a few proteins found in the parasite.

Researchers found that the vaccine— the first whole parasite vaccine to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for clinical trials — could provide unprecedented immune responses against malaria when administered intravenously.

“This is the first whole organism malaria vaccine ever produced,” said Kirsten Lyke, M.D., associate professor of medicine and a research scientist, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“No vaccine has completely protected against malaria in a challenge trial, in which vaccinated volunteers are subjected to the bite of an infected mosquito to measure their immunity,” stated Dr. Lyke.

“This vaccine showed strong promise. We hope that with further study it could help revolutionize the field and prevent death and illness from malaria worldwide, and be used to eliminate malaria from certain areas,” he added.

The study was published online in the journal Science this week.

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