News / Health

Promising Malaria Vaccine Headed for Trials in Australia

Jessica Berman
An experimental malaria vaccine, poised to undergo human clinical trials, seems to protect against all types of the disease.  The Australian researchers who developed the drug say it can be simply and inexpensively made in countries where it is most needed.  

There's a reason most malaria vaccines do not work, says Michael Good, an immunologist at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.  It's because the drugs now in clinical trials try to stimulate an immune response against the infection by using surface proteins from the mosquito-borne parasite.  

But Good says those proteins are highly changeable, allowing the parasite to evade destruction by the body’s protective white blood cells.

The vaccine approach taken by Good and colleagues uses the entire parasitic worm, which they bathe in chemicals that bind to the organism’s DNA so it cannot reproduce.  
 
”It’s completely weakened.  It can’t actually cause an infection.  But it fools the body into thinking that there has been an infection," said Good.

After the parasites are essentially neutered by the chemicals, Good says they are processed into a vaccine that, in experiments with mice, triggered a very strong protective response by the body's T cells.  

In a Skype interview, Good said the inoculated mice were shielded for more than six months when researchers tried to infect them with different strains of a rodent version of malaria.  

This indicates that the “whole parasite” vaccine approach, as Good calls it, could potentially protect against infection by any number of human malaria strains, by targeting proteins common to all of them.

“To get protection against multiple strains to us was extremely encouraging because that has been to date one of the major issues...about making vaccines for humans," he said.

Researchers also found that even the deadliest human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, was weakened by the drug compounds they tested to make the vaccine.

Human clinical trials to test the safety and immune response of the novel malaria vaccine are expected to get under way in the coming months.  Good says the vaccine is simple to make and could easily be produced locally in malaria-endemic countries, including those in sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease claims upwards of three-quarters of a million lives each year.

An article on the malaria parasite vaccine by Australian researcher Michael Good and colleagues is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid