A new vaccine for killer malaria is in the offing as the American scientists are carrying research on children in Tanzania to develop a drug that will make children immune to the mosquito bitten disease.
Following analysis of blood samples of 1,000 Tanzanian toddlers, researchers at the Brown University’s medical school found that six percent of those children produce an antibody that attacks the malaria-causing parasite and makes the children immune to the disease.
Scientist also conducted tests on mice and found that the vaccine protects against malaria. The researchers are hopeful that the new findings will be safe and effective in humans.
Scientists vaccinated five groups of mice and in addition they also measured the level of antibodies in plasma samples from 453 Tanzanian children and no cases were detected of serious malaria where a detectable level of PfSEA-1 antibodies was present in the blood.
The new PfSEA-1 vaccine works by trapping malaria parasites inside infected red blood cells so that they cannot emerge to infect other red blood cells and so complete their complicated life cycle, said Jonathan Kurtis at Rhode Island Hospital in the US.
The study found a protein, PfSEA-1, which was associated to a reduced level of parasites in a number of children and adults in regions of Africa where malaria is endemic.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, 627,000 people die from the disease each year. Most of those deaths are of children under the age of five living in sub-Saharan Africa.
Malaria is a disease spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms usually appear within in 7-30 days but can take up to one year to develop. Symptoms include high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Without treatment, malaria can cause severe illness and even death.
The disease kills more than 600,000 people each year, particularly young children in sub-Saharan Africa.
The research was published in the journal “Science”.