Monday April 6, 2020

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.

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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

Bill Gates Announces To Contribute Funds For Developing Coronavirus Vaccines

According to the scientists, a vaccine may take up to 12-18 months after successful human clinical trials

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Bill Gates
Gates last month stepped down from Microsoft's board of directors to dedicate more time to his philanthropic priorities. Wikimedia Commons

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has announced his foundation is paying for the construction of facilities that will manufacture seven promising coronavirus vaccines and the best two vaccines would be picked up for final trials.

In an interview with host Trevor Noah on The Daily Show, he said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is moving forward with building manufacturing capacity for the seven vaccine candidates to save time, as the novel coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the world, reports The Hill.

“Even though we’ll end up picking at most two of them, we’re going to fund factories for all seven just so we don’t waste time in serially saying �ok which vaccine works’ and then building the factory,” Gates was quoted as saying.

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Gates last month stepped down from Microsoft’s board of directors to dedicate more time to his philanthropic priorities. “It’ll be a few billion dollars we’ll waste on manufacturing for the constructs that don’t get picked because something else is better. But a few billion in this situation we’re in, where there’s trillions of dollars…being lost economically, it is worth it,” Gates emphasized on the TV show.

According to the scientists, a vaccine may take up to 12-18 months after successful human clinical trials. Gates has called for a nationwide shutdown in the US, saying the country needs to enforce stricter lockdown measures in every state.

Bill Gates
Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has announced his foundation is paying for the construction of facilities that will manufacture seven promising coronavirus vaccines and the best two vaccines would be picked up for final trials. Wikimedia Commons

US president Donald Trump said on Saturday that country is headed into a few brutal weeks ahead where “there will be a lot of death”, and also circled back to his riff on reopening the economy as the coronavirus death toll surged past 8,400, overwhelming the domestic health care system.

The country’s caseload climbed to more than 300,000. Gates has also called upon donor governments to help low- and middle-income countries prepare for this “pandemic”, in addition to helping their own citizens respond. “By helping countries in Africa and South Asia get ready now, we can save lives and also slow the global circulation of the virus,” the Microsoft co-founder wrote in his GatesNotes blog.

ALSO READ: Find Out How AI-Based ‘Smart’ Systems Help in Communication Amid Pandemic

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in February announced that it would immediately commit up to $100 million for the global response to the novel coronavirus. (IANS)