Scientists are getting really close to a malaria vaccine

February 17, 2017  15:29

A new malaria vaccine candidate has proven up to 100 percent effective in clinical trials.

The potential vaccine introduces live malaria parasites into patients, paired with the medication needed to combat them. It was given to 67 healthy humans, and the nine participants given the highest dose were 100 percent protected against the disease for at least 10 weeks after vaccination.

This is only a Phase II clinical trial, aimed at looking at how well the vaccine works in a small group of healthy people, as well as testing the side effects. 

But the most exciting part is that it's not the only vaccine candidate currently proving itself in clinical trials.

Last year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that a pilot programme involving the world's first licensed malaria vaccine - RTS,S, also known as Mosquirix - would be rolled out in three sub-Saharan African countries in 2018.

Mosquirix has so far only proven up to 50 percent effective in children, but it's hoped that further testing and dose tweaking in the pilot program could improve that efficacy further.

Now, another new vaccine candidate called Sanaria® PfSPZ-CVac has just cleared Phase II clinical trials. It's not as far along in the drug development process as Mosquirix, but so far, it's showing the potential to be a lot more effective. 

Regardless of which one ultimately ends up offering better protection, the reality is that after more than a century, we're finally getting really close to not just one, but two viable malaria vaccines hitting the market.

 Malaria still kills more than 400,000 people each year - most of those in Africa - and nearly three-quarters of deaths in children under the age of five. WHO estimates that some 214 million people were infected in 2015 alone.

The results of the latest Sanaria® PfSPZ-CVac trial have been published in Nature.

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