Washington, Jan 23: A malaria vaccine trial in Mali conducted by researchers at the Malaria Research and Training Center at the University of Bamako, Mali, has shown early promising results.
In the study, the researchers found that a candidate malaria vaccine, designed to block the malaria parasite from entering human blood cells, was safe and elicited strong immune responses in the 40 Malian adults who received it. The small clinical trial, conducted by lead author Mahamadou A. Thera M.D., MPH, and colleagues, was the first to test this vaccine candidate in a malaria-endemic country.
In the study, a total of 60 participants were assigned at random to receive either a full or half-dose of the candidate malaria vaccine or a licensed rabies vaccine, which served as a control.
Each volunteer was given three injections, spaced one month apart. Injections began in late December 2004, at the end of the malaria transmission season.
It was found that all volunteers had significant levels of antibodies against malaria parasites detectable in their blood at the beginning of the trial, signalling that they had prior exposure to malaria parasites.
People who received the candidate vaccine tolerated it very well and experienced a significant boost in levels of vaccine-specific antibodies, while those who received the rabies vaccine had declining levels of antibodies as the rainy season receded.