Effective Malaria Vaccine May Be on the Horizon
Vaccine developer Inovio recently announced success with a synthetic vaccine for malaria in clinical trials, reporting strong and enduring antibody and T-cell responses with its vaccine in small animals and non-human primates.
The synthetic DNA vaccine was delivered via the company’s electroporation device and demonstrated strong antibody responses to all four malaria antigens. This, the company said, is a strong indication that the vaccine could be effective in producing a preventive response in humans.
Malaria has plagued humans for millennia, and stopping the transmission of the malaria parasite has thus far eluded us. Scientists have seemingly examined every possible way of eradicating malaria, including “vaccinating” mosquitoes to prevent transmission to humans, but as of today prevention is still for the most part very basic (pesticides, mosquito nets, etc.)
The statistics are alarming—in 2010 there were an estimated 216 cases of malaria and 655,000 deaths worldwide, 86 percent of which were children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most deaths occurred in the African region, followed by the South-East Asia and Eastern Mediterranean regions. The parasite species most likely to cause severe malaria is Plasmodium falciparum transmitted by a very efficient mosquito species, Anopheles gambiae.
In 2014 Inovio plans to launch additional clinical trials to test the DNA vaccine and electroporation technology in approximately 30 people. At this stage, the company’s vaccine looks to be a promising contender in the ongoing fight against malaria.