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New vaccine to lower disease rate and protect against malaria
US researchers report an important advance in the development of a malaria vaccine. Accordingly, the new vaccination protection should lower the malaria disease rate. The immunization is carried out in a similar way to a bite from an infected mosquito - however, only malaria pathogens in a weakened, sterile and purified form are used in the vaccination. This provokes an immune response in the human body, but the disease does not break out.
Vaccine is said to be just as effective against malaria as a bite from an infected mosquito. Robert Seder from the vaccine research center in Bethesda in the US state of Maryland and his team of researchers in the scientific journal Science reported that the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which is a particularly dangerous form of Malaria transmits to prepare in a vaccine serum.
It has been known for 40 years that an injection with Plasmodium falciparum can immunize against malaria, but so far there has been no method for cultivating the parasites and producing a corresponding serum from them. "Until now, consistent high-level and vaccine-induced protection against malaria in humans has only been achieved by vaccination with Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites via mosquito bites," the researchers write in the specialist magazine. However, the aggressive pathogens in a mosquito can trigger malaria, so this variant of immunization is not very practical. In contrast, only weakened, sterile and purified pathogens are used for the new vaccine.
For the investigation, the 40 test subjects were divided into two groups. Within one year, the first group received four doses of the new active ingredient, the second received five in the same period. As it turned out, malaria developed in a third of the subjects in the first group and none in the second group. The more antibodies that were given, the higher the number of antibodies in the blood. As the researchers report, the T cells, which play an important part in the immune defense in the human body, also reacted to the vaccine serum. "The response of the pathogen-specific antibodies and T cells was dose-dependent," explains Seder and his team. Such protection has so far only been achieved by transmission with malaria mosquitoes.
According to the trade magazine, however, further, extensive studies must follow, which clarify, among other things, how long the immunization lasts and whether the serum is also effective against other Plasmodium falciparum strains.
Malaria is one of the most dangerous infectious diseases in the world According to WHO estimates, around 660,000 people worldwide died from malaria in 2010. Around 219 million people are said to be ill in the same period. Most cases (about 90 percent) occur in Africa because the host of the pathogens, mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles, is most widespread in the tropics and subtropics. If an infected mosquito bites, the parasites enter the bloodstream and can cause severe discomfort. Affected people suffer from very high, recurring fever, chills, margin-intestinal complaints and cramps. Especially in children, if no treatment is given, malaria quickly leads to coma and ultimately death. There are medicines for the disease, but resistance has developed in many regions, so that many agents are no longer effective. As is so often the case, the disease affects the weakest most. Children under the age of five are mostly affected by malaria.
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Image: Uschi Dreiucker / pixelio.de