A new malaria vaccine has been created to target different forms of the disease and help those most at risk.
The parasites that cause malaria come in many different forms. This new vaccine works by triggering a range of antibodies to fight the different malaria parasites.
Many existing vaccines target only a limited part of the parasite population, making them less effective.
Scientists at the University created the vaccine by combining multiple types of a key protein found in many different parasite types.
During infection the production of antibodies is triggered by this protein. Mixing multiple proteins induces antibodies against a wide range of malaria parasites.
Tests have shown that antibodies targeting this key protein offer improved protection against the disease. It has also been shown to be effective in animals.
Helping those at risk
Owing to the many different types of parasites, the only way to gain natural immunity to all these forms is to catch multiple strains of the illness.
A vaccine that overcomes this would be most useful to children and other vulnerable populations.
"Our approach is novel because it combines multiple antibody targets from different parasite types, giving broader protection. This could prove to be a useful vaccine," said the study's corresponding author, Dr. David Cavanagh of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences.
Malaria is spread by mosquito bites and affects people and animals. According to the World Health Organisation the disease affected 225 million people in 2009 and caused an estimated 781 000 deaths. Those affected were mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa.
The study, published by PLoS ONE, was supported by the European Commission.
- Graeme J. M. Cowan, Alison M. Creasey, Kelwalin Dhansarnsombut, Alan W. Thomas, Edmond J. Remarque, David R. Cavanagh. A Malaria Vaccine Based on the Polymorphic Block 2 Region of MSP-1 that Elicits a Broad Serotype-Spanning Immune Response. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (10): e26616 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026616
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