WIKIMEDIA, IMAGE BY UTE FREVERT; FALSE COLOR BY MARGARET SHEARTo successfully eliminate malaria, which currently causes an estimated 660,000 deaths each year, researchers must develop vaccines that reduce cases by 75 percent, a new roadmap released Thursday (November 14) suggests.
“Safe, effective, affordable vaccines could play a critical role in defeating malaria,” Robert Newman, director of the World Health Organization’s Global Malaria Programme, said in a press release. “Despite all the recent progress countries have made, and despite important innovations in diagnostics, drugs and vector control, the global burden of malaria remains unacceptably high.”
The 2013 Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap, launched today at the annual conference of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene in Washington, DC, and announced in The Lancet, is an update to a 2006 plan that focused on a Plasmodium falciparum vaccine for children in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015—a goal that very well may be met by GlaxoSmithKline’s RTS,S vaccine candidate, which last month scored high marks for protecting children from the disease. Final Phase 3 results are expected in 2015, at which time the WHO may recommend the vaccine for widespread use. In addition to the RTS,S vaccine, the WHO lists 27 other malaria vaccine candidates, most in early-stage clinical trials.
The new roadmap targets both P. falciparum and P. vivax, and sets the goal of not just protecting against the disease, but actually eradicating it. “The new vaccines should show at least 75 percent efficacy against clinical malaria, be suitable for use in in all malaria-endemic areas, and be licensed by 2030,” Jean-Marie Okwo Bele, director of the WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, said in the release. “The roadmap also sets a target for malaria vaccines that reduce transmission of the parasite.”