Monday June 24, 2019

Novel Experimental Vaccine Offering Hope Against Malaria

A year later, the vaccinated non-human primates still had immunity against malaria, while eight control animals that were not vaccinated did not

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Malaria, Vaccines
This new type of bed net can help prevent malaria: Lancet. (VOA)

An experimental new malaria vaccine is offering potentially long-lasting immunity against the persistent parasite that sickens hundreds of millions of people each year, a study suggests.

Most vaccines are designed to encourage the human body to respond to invading, disease-causing pathogens by creating antibodies that disable those pathogens.

However, the new vaccine takes a different approach by using a weakened form of a common herpes virus – cytomegalovirus, or CMV – that infects most people without causing the disease.

This new vaccine reduced the malaria-causing parasite’s release from the liver and into the blood of infected rhesus macaques by 75 to 80 per cent, reported the paper published in the journal PLOS ONE.

“The problem with most vaccines is that their effectiveness is often short-lived,” said lead author Klaus Fruh, professor at the Oregon Health and Science University in the US.

More people die of malaria than anything else in the world.
More people die of malaria than anything else in the world.

“Our cytomegalovirus-based vaccine platform can create and keep immunity for life. With further research and development, it could offer a lifetime of protection against malaria,” Fruh added.

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are spread to humans through mosquito bites.

It can cause high fevers, shaking chills, flu-like illness and, in the worst cases, death.

Worldwide, 216 million people were infected with malaria in 2016, leading to 445,000 deaths.

Fruh and his team weaved tiny bits of their target pathogen into CMV, which is already being used in vaccines being developed to battle HIV and tuberculosis.

Those who receive the resulting, re-engineered CMV vaccine produce memory T-cells that can search for and destroy pathogen-infected cells.

A health service worker takes a blood sample for a malaria test in Dajabon, Dominican Republic, on the border with Haiti, Oct. 6, 2009. A test that doesn't require a needle or blood has won the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation
A health service worker takes a blood sample for a malaria test in Dajabon, Dominican Republic, on the border with Haiti, Oct. 6, 2009. A test that doesn’t require a needle or blood has won the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, VOA

The team developed two different versions of their CMV-based malaria vaccine while using four different proteins made by the Plasmodium parasite.

The resulting vaccines delayed the parasite’s appearance in the blood of 16 infected and vaccinated rhesus macaques by eliminating between 75 and 80 per cent of parasites from the liver.

Also Read- Deficiency of Zinc May up Hypertension

A year later, the vaccinated non-human primates still had immunity against malaria, while eight control animals that were not vaccinated did not.

The CMV vaccine platform has been licensed by San Francisco-based Vir Biotechnology, which plans to lead a human clinical trial for a CMV-based HIV vaccine in 2019.  (IANS)

Next Story

WHO Certifies Argentina and Algeria as Malaria-Free Countries

WHO says Algeria's and Argentina's unwavering commitment, perseverance and success in combating malaria should serve as a model for other countries

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malaria-free
FILE - A worker of sprays the walls of a house with insecticide against mosquitoes, in Ghana, May 2, 2018. VOA

The World Health Organization has certified Algeria and Argentina as malaria-free, following three consecutive years where no new cases of the deadly disease have been reported.

The malaria parasite, which kills more than 400,000 people each year, was discovered in Algeria in 1880. Most of the victims are children under the age of five in Africa.

The World Health Organization reports Algeria is the second country in Africa to be recognized as malaria-free after Mauritius, which was certified in 1973. Argentina is the second country in South America, after Paraguay, to be declared malaria-free.

malaria-free
FILE – Two children stricken with malaria rest at the local hospital in the small village of Walikale, Congo. VOA

A combination of many factors has made the achievements possible, according to WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib.

“It is very good news for Algeria and Argentina, but also for the two continents and globally also,” Chaib told VOA. “It means that malaria can be beaten. But the efforts should continue because we need also to enhance surveillance to be able to detect if any cases of malaria are still present in the country.”

WHO says the two countries eliminated malaria by employing a number of basic, well-proven measures, including insecticide-treated mosquito nets. It says both countries improved surveillance, which enabled them to rapidly identify and treat new cases of malaria. In addition, the two countries provided free diagnosis and treatment within their borders.

malaria-free
World Health Organization reports Algeria is the second country in Africa to be recognized as malaria-free after Mauritius. Wikimedia Commons

In the case of Argentina, WHO says cross-border collaboration with its neighbor Bolivia was critical in combating the disease. It says both countries teamed up to spray more than 22,000 homes in border areas and to conduct widespread malaria testing.

ALSO READ: East African Countries Set to Ban Skin-Lightening Products Containing Hydroquinone

WHO says Algeria’s and Argentina’s unwavering commitment, perseverance and success in combating malaria should serve as a model for other countries.

Both Algeria and Argentina have succeeded in ridding themselves of the deadly malaria parasite without the benefit of a vaccine. Health officials are hopeful this task becomes easier with the recent rollout of the first promising malaria vaccine in Ghana and Malawi. (VOA)