A new malaria drug has shown 100pc success in clinical testing
More than three billion people could be in danger of catching malaria, the tropical disease that is often transmitted by parasite-bearing mosquitoes. The symptoms of the disease are debilitating, including vomiting, fever and chills. In 2015, more than 200 million people were affected by malaria, and of those afflicted, there were more than 400,000 deaths.
Malaria is a significant problem in global health, not least because so many people are exposed to mosquitoes. Being bitten by mosquitoes is bad enough, but that bite could mean serious illness or even a death sentence. A single mosquito bite can be enough to transmit the disease, as the parasites live in the mosquito’s saliva and are easily transferred to the bloodstream. If proper treatment is not administered, the disease can recur.
Although cases of malaria have been reduced by up to 60 per cent in the past 15 years, which is encouraging, a new vaccine may be the key to bringing the incidence of malaria down even further. A vaccine for malaria has been difficult to produce, as the disease is triggered by a parasite rather than a virus. This report from the Guardian discusses how a vaccine could save millions of young children in Africa.
A weak form of the malaria-causing parasite was used in developing the vaccine, known as Sanaria® PfSPZ. The vaccine was demonstrated to be 100 per cent successful using patient recruitment services during clinical testing in the US. When tested in Mali, where malaria is rife, the success rate was nearly 50 per cent. The clinical research was carried out by Mali’s University of Bamako, along with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the American National Institutes of Health.
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Another malaria vaccine is also in development by the British pharmaceutical firm GSK. This vaccine has been give the name Mosquirix™, and it is expected to arrive on the market next year. It is not, however, expected to have the effectiveness of the PfSPZ vaccine. Once greatly feared as a likely cause of death, it now seems that finally the malaria problem is almost under control.