Malaria vaccines get real

Trial offers evidence that an effective vaccine is feasible - but WHO expresses caution

Robert Walgate(Walgate@realhealthnews.net)
Oct 14, 2004

After decades of frustration for scientists trying to create a useful vaccine against the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, a public-private partnership said on Friday (October 15) it has produced a promising candidate.

GlaxoSmithKline's RTS,S/AS02A, a fusion of immunogenic components of the circumsporozoite protein with hepatitis B surface antigen, plus a proprietary adjuvant, achieved a 58% efficacy against severe disease in 1- to 5-year-olds in a phase IIb trial in Mozambique, with signs of better efficacy among the younger end of the range. Nearly 40% of malaria mortality is believed to occur in children under 1 year old.

Pedro Alonso of the University of Barcelona, who led the clinical trial design and implementation, told The Scientist, "The importance of this result is that it's the first conclusive evidence that we can produce a malaria vaccine. Up to now, it's just been controversy in the international research community… after this paper,...

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