A new malaria vaccine in the US has shown promising results in early stage clinical trials, having protected 12 out of 15 patients from the disease. The vaccine involves injecting live but weakened malaria-causing parasites directly into patients which triggers immunity.
A US biotech company called Sanaria took lab-grown mosquitoes, irradiated them and then extracted the malaria-causing parasite (Plasmodium falciparum), all under the sterile conditions. These living but weakened parasites are then counted and placed in vials, where they can then be injected directly into a patient's bloodstream. This vaccine candidate is called PfSPZ.
In the clinical trial, the researchers looked at a group of 57 volunteers, none of whom had had malaria before. Of these, 40 received different doses of the vaccine, while 17 did not. They were then all exposed to the malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The researchers found that for the participants not given any vaccine, and those given low doses, almost all became infected with malaria. However, for the small group given the highest dosage, only three of the 15 patients became infected after exposure to malaria.
The vaccine is still in the development phase as researchers are finding if the vaccine is durable over a long period of time and can the vaccine protect against other strains of malaria.
The detailed results of the study were published in the journal Science.
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