Researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in India say they have developed a treatment that shows "early success" with a possible malaria vaccine, according to a report in the Economic Times based on work the institute published in a paper in Malaria Journal.
The TIFR team said it identified certain proteins on the plasmodium parasite and combined that knowledge with genetic and nanoparticle research to produce antibodies in mice to ward off infection, the report said.
Head researcher Gotam Jarori told the Economic Times that "our candidate vaccine seems to have the broadest use as it could be effective against all strains of malaria."
Malaria is endemic throughout Asia and kills 500,000 people globally every year.
Jarori told the Economic Times that the proteins they identified were important in the spread of the disease to the host's red blood cells as well as the mosquito's stomach.
"Blocking this protein would thus control the disease's spread in humans as well as break the transmission cycle among mosquitoes," he said in the Economic Times report.
The work was carried out with the University of Maryland School of Medicine, which contributed the nanoparticles that were genetically fused with the protein segment, the report said, and then injected into mice.
"We found that even a lethal strain of mouse malaria parasite in these vaccinated animals showed considerable protection against malaria," Jarori said in the Economic Times report.
He also said the work was still in the early stages.
"This is just a drop in a bucket, but we believe we have developed the best mechanism to vaccinate against malaria," he told the Economic Times. "If it works in subsequent research, it will not only protect people against all strains of malaria, but ensure that mosquitoes won't be able to carry parasites from one person to another."
The work in India follows reports in June that Australian scientists had developed a compound that killed the malaria parasite and hoped to soon move a candidate that would cost around $1 per dose to human clinical trials.
- here's the report from the Economic Times
EJ Lane contributed to this report.