Malaria vaccine successfully tested


Malaria vaccine reduces risk of infection by 50 percent

Researchers have been testing a malaria vaccine for two years. The novel vaccine is being tested on children and infants at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in the city of Lambarene in Gabon, Africa. The tropical medicine doctor from Tübingen, Prof. Peter Kremsner, who heads the research center in Gabon, reports that the malaria vaccine has a success rate of around 50 percent.

Researchers around the world have been looking for a malaria vaccine for over 30 years. A comprehensive study has been testing a malaria vaccine for two years now, which is far from being fully protected against malaria, but could still save hundreds of thousands of lives with a success rate of around 50 percent. In the course of the study, which runs until 2014, 16,000 children and infants will receive the new active ingredient. Now the scientists led by tropical doctor Prof. Peter Kremsner have presented the first interim results after two years of study.

Up to 500 million malaria infections annually Malaria is still one of the most feared infectious diseases worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 300 and 500 million people develop malaria each year. About one million of these diseases are fatal, with around 90 percent of all malaria infections affecting the African continent, according to WHO figures. According to the World Health Organization, a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds worldwide. Research into a vaccine has therefore been the focus of research for decades. So far, however, most of the active ingredients have been relatively inefficient. The malaria vaccine now examined in the current study was a clear exception with a predicted success rate of 30 to 50 percent. The active ingredient has therefore been tested in practice since 2010. The first interim analysis of the data from 6,000 subjects presented after two years, according to Dr. Benjamin Mordmüller, medical doctor at the Tübingen Tropical Institute, found that the protection against malaria even reached 56 percent when vaccinated, which was more efficient than previously assumed.

Malaria vaccine could save hundreds of thousands of lives. Although tropical medicine experts also said that a significantly higher success rate in malaria vaccination protection would be desirable, they were quite satisfied with the effectiveness achieved so far. Because with one million malaria deaths per year, the vaccine could save more than 500,000 lives a year, according to the researchers. As Prof. Peter Kremsner emphasized, the current data are a milestone in the fight against malaria and could usher in a new era in dealing with the disease. However, Kremsner also hopes for improved vaccination protection for the coming generations of the malaria vaccine. The current study will run until 2014 and only after the evaluation of all the data obtained can the vaccine be approved by the responsible authorities in the USA (Food and Drug Administration, FDA) and Europe (European Medicines Agency, EMA) Benjamin Mordmüller from the Tübingen Tropical Institute explained. Why the approval of the active ingredient in Europe and the USA is necessary for the time being, but where the main area of ​​application will be in Africa, is not clear from the explanations of the tropical medicine.

The malaria vaccine is currently being tested in children between the ages of five and 14 months and in infants between the ages of six and 12 weeks. According to the researchers, the goal is to introduce malaria vaccination as the standard vaccination for children in areas with a high risk of malaria. Because in the tropics, infectious disease is still one of the most common causes of death in young children. Research into the malaria vaccine is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Glaxo Smith Kline is involved in the research as a partner from the pharmaceutical industry.

Researching alternatives to malaria vaccination The current results of the research can certainly be rated as a success, but given the still relatively modest success rate of the malaria vaccine, research into alternatives to protection against malaria and the development of efficient treatment methods against the infectious disease must be pushed ahead urgently . US researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology recently discovered a special type of red algae as a possible weapon against malaria. According to the research team led by Julia Kubanek from the Georgia Institute of Technology, the chemical compounds of the rare red algae are suitable as a herbal active ingredient against the malaria pathogen "Plasmodium falciparum". The chemical compounds of the red algae have not only successfully destroyed the malaria pathogen in laboratory tests, but have also shown significant successes in other infectious diseases, the US scientists reported earlier this year. The ingredients of the rare red algae Callophycus serratus generally have an antimicrobial effect that is particularly efficient not only against malaria but also, for example, against the dangerous so-called hospital germs, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), explained Julia Kubanek. (fp)

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