(ORDO NEWS) — American researchers have shown that a new vaccine technology will save millions of people from malaria.
They have developed two prototype mRNA vaccines targeting two different life stages of the malaria pathogen that have performed well in mice.
Malaria occurs in more than 90 countries, causing 241 million cases of illness and approximately 627,000 deaths each year.
Vaccination could help to significantly reduce these rates, but so far it has not been possible to create an effective drug.
Scientists from George Washington University (USA) were inspired by the success of mRNA vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic and decided to adapt this technology to fight malaria.
As a result, they developed two candidate mRNA vaccines that were very effective in reducing the incidence and spread of malaria.
Both drugs, featured in the journal npj Vaccines, elicited a powerful immune response whether administered together or separately.
Malaria is caused by four protozoan species of the genus Plasmodium , the most deadly being Plasmodium falciparum, which is transmitted by the bite of the Anopheles mosquito and is responsible for more than 90% of all malaria cases worldwide and 95% of all deaths from it.
Mostly this disease is common in sub-Saharan Africa, but half of the world’s population is at risk of infection.
Scientists have developed two mRNA vaccines that target different stages of the parasite’s life cycle.
One targeted a protein that helps the parasites move through the host’s body and enter the liver, while the other targeted a protein needed for parasites to multiply in the mosquito’s gut. The effectiveness of the vaccines was evaluated by the authors in mice.
The results showed that both vaccines elicited a strong immune response in the animals and were very effective in reducing infection in both mice and mosquitoes.
The presence of antibodies during transmission of parasites to healthy mosquitoes has dramatically reduced the parasitic load on insects, which is also an important step in the fight against the spread of malaria.
The co-administration of both vaccines also effectively reduced the infection without significant side effects for the body.
The scientists now plan to launch additional studies, including in non-human primates, to further develop vaccines that can be safely administered to humans.
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