Malaria vaccine hailed as a success

Research published today (FRI) online in The Lancet Infectious Diseases indicates that the vaccine reduces the risk of infection by the parasite that causes severe malaria by 46 per cent over 15 months.

Malaria, which is passed to humans via infected mosquitoes, is one of the biggest killers of children in Africa.

Of the 900,000 people killed by the disease across the continent every year, the majority are children under five.

While the vaccine does not give near total protection, as those for other diseases marketed for use in Western countries typically do, it still has the potential to save large numbers of lives.

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  • As the malaria vaccine continues to prove sceptics wrong, the next obstacle for the World Health Organisation is cost

    The Guardian, By Sarah Boseley, October 18

    Malaria is a mass killer, taking just under 800,000 lives a year. Most of them are babies and children under five. A significant number are pregnant women. It is an entirely preventable disease, caused by a parasite transmitted by mosquito bite, but the millions who live under its curse are too poor and have too few options to be able to avoid it.

    The malaria vaccine that now appears to be within reach, following successful large-scale trials in seven African countries, is a potential game changer for the rural villagers whose children are the main victims of this ancient disease, which was named “mal’aria” for the bad air medieval Italians thought caused it.

    Early results from 6,000 babies aged 5-17 months show that their risk of malaria was reduced by slightly more than half (56%) and their chance of severe malaria – the kind that affects the brain, kidneys and blood and often kills – by slightly less than half (47%).


    Malaria deaths have come down from more than a million to an estimated 780,000 a year, according to the latest report from the Roll Back Malaria partnership of the World Health Organisation. Three countries were certified malaria-free in the past four years, and nine more are preparing to move towards elimination – but that is out of 108 where the disease is endemic.


    “I have got every confidence that we can get this price to a level that makes it very viable for donors to consider,” he said. “I don’t want people to think this is an alternative to bed nets. This is about doing all we can to shut the door on malaria.”

    He recalls the children’s hospital wards he has seen in Africa, overwhelmingly full of malaria cases: “If you could take that burden away, imagine what the health capacity would be.”

    Malaria vaccine: many in scientific community thought it was impossible

    GlaxoSmithKline research head Moncef Slaoui explains how change of focus to cellular immunity was key to breakthrough

    The Guardian, By Sarah Boseley, October 19

    Moncef Slaoui was on holiday with his family when he heard the results of the first small trial, involving African infants, of the malaria vaccine he helped invent. It was a day he would never forget.

    “It was 9 August 2004,” he said. “I’m on vacation with my kids, driving between Chicago and Indianapolis and my phone rings and it’s the team calling from Mozambique. I had to stop for at least an hour. I couldn’t drive any more. That was a big, big moment.”

    The vaccine had been classed as around 55-60% effective. It was the first sign that Slaoui, now chair of R&D at GlaxoSmithKline, and his colleagues, were going to be successful in cutting the terrible toll of malaria in Africa. Halving the 200m cases a year would save lives and prevent a huge amount of harm.

    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • BBC, By James Gallagher Health reporter, November 9

    The route all strains of the most deadly malaria parasite use to enter red blood cells has been identified by researchers at the Sanger Institute in Cambridge.

    The scientists involved said the finding offered “great hope” for the development of a vaccine, which had the potential to be hugely effective.

    Other experts said they were surprised and impressed.


    “As a starting point for developing a vaccine you couldn’t hope for better,” he said.

  • In Clinical Trial, Malaria Vaccine Candidate Produces Disappointing Results

    New York Times, By Donald H. McNeill, November 9

    The latest clinical trial of the world’s leading malaria vaccine candidate produced disappointing results on Friday. The infants it was given to had only about a third fewer infections than a control group.

    But researchers said they wanted to press on, assuming they keep getting financial support, because the number of children who die of malaria is so great that even an inefficient vaccine can save thousands of lives.

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