An experimental malaria vaccine originally developed by GlaxoSmithKline and the U.S. Army has produced dramatic results in an early-stage trial in Mali. Researchers recruited 100 children who are between 1 and 6 years old for the trial and found that the jab provided the same kind of immunity as lifelong exposure to the disease. The children's immune response jumped 100-fold.
"These findings imply that we may have achieved our goal of using a vaccine to reproduce the natural protective immunity that normally takes years of intense exposure to malaria to develop," says Christopher Plowe, professor and chief of the malaria section at the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland's school of medicine, and a lead author of the study.
"What jumps out to me about this vaccine is the antibody response," Plowe tells Reuters. "When you just look at the antibodies before you immunize anybody, the adults in Mali who have been exposed to malaria life-long, they don't get sick from malaria any more. They get infected but they don't get sick. That is exactly what you want a blood stage vaccine to do."
Their success is leading directly to a larger study that will test the single-strain vaccine in 400 children in Mali. Scientists from the University of Maryland and the Malaria Research and Training Center are conducting the work. The vaccine uses a form of the AMA-1 protein, which was created by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and an adjuvant system developed by Glaxo.