New anti-malaria vaccine found effective in children

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Washington, Feb 4 (ANI): An international team of researchers has concluded that a new malaria vaccine shows promise in protecting young children.

The study led by the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) and the Malaria Research and Training Center at the University of Bamako in Mali, West Africa, has appeared online in the Feb. 4 issue of PLoS ONE, the journal of the Public Library of Science.

It was seen that the vaccine stimulated strong and long-lasting immune responses. In fact, the antibody levels the vaccine produced in the children were as high or even higher than the antibody levels found in adults who have naturally developed protective immune responses to the parasite over lifelong exposure to malaria.

Christopher V. Plowe, professor and chief of the Malaria Section of the CVD and a lead author of the study, said: "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."

The new vaccine, called FMP2.1/AS02A, was produced as part of a longstanding research collaboration between the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals (GSK). It consists of a form of the AMA-1 protein, invented and manufactured by WRAIR, and the AS02 Adjuvant System, developed and manufactured by GSK. The Adjuvant System is a compound that boosts the immune response to the vaccine.

The vaccine, based on a single strain of the falciparum malaria parasite - the most common and deadliest form of the parasite found in Africa - targets malaria in the blood stage, the period after the mosquito bite, when the parasite multiplies in the blood, causing disease and death.

The researchers tested the vaccine in 100 Malian children ages 1-6 at the Bandiagara Malaria Project in rural Mali. The children were randomly given either one of three escalating doses of the malaria vaccine or a control rabies vaccine. All three doses of the vaccine proved to be safe and well-tolerated and showed very strong antibody responses that were sustained for at least a year. (ANI)

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