Malaria has been one of the main focuses of the World Health Organization for over a decade now, as the disease continues to make hundreds of thousands of victims annually and has yet to be defeated by a manmade vaccine. As a result of this focused push on Malaria by the global health community, there are currently several dozen types of vaccines that are being researched and developed worldwide, many of which are already at the experimental stage. Among these vaccines, a certain type tries to imitate the virus’ parasites and has just been modified and used in a new study on monkeys and brought about some very promising results.
The research team from the American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) lead an experiment on 8 monkeys that were infected with a virulent malaria parasite strain called Plasmodium Falciparum. In case of infection with this parasite, the parasite enters the red blood cells by producing its own receptor protein onto the cell’s outer shell. The malaria symptoms begin as soon the red blood cells burst as a result of parasite replication inside them.
- The modified version of the vaccine is based on a much more accurate similarity of the vaccine to the parasite’s proteins. This proved to be a much more efficient use of the vaccine as it resulted in higher resistance to the symptoms in the worst cases and complete recovery from the virus in best cases. But it’s not just that, as the numbers were also extremely positive. Out of the total 8 monkeys treated, 4 of them, i.e 50%, became entirely protected from the virus and 3 of them saw the appearance of the parasite being delayed by 25 days.
With such numbers, the research team can now move on to the next stages of the vaccine’s development. If successful on humans, this vaccine could prove to be what we have been waiting for for several decades to finally defeat one of our era’s most persistent evils.