News Friday August 19, 2011

New malaria vaccine just months away from human trials

Human trials could occur in as little as six months for a new malaria vaccine that has been invented in Australia.

The vaccine is the result of several years of research by a team at Griffith University in Australia, led by Professor Michael Good, who is the Director of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. The patented vaccine has been successfully trialled on mice, which were inoculated against two strains of the disease. According to Professor Good, quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, the technology that has been utilised to manufacture the vaccine is “simple”, because there is “no point making a vaccine if it’s going to be expensive”, recognising that malaria is prevalent in countries that are among the poorest in the world.

The human trials will be able to establish whether the success that was seen in the trials with mice will be repeated amongst humans. Professor Good says he is “confident” about this. The vaccine will be a major breakthrough in the fight against malaria, as there are currently no effective vaccines available. Research in this area is intensive and ongoing, as vaccines are usually more cost-effective solutions than alternatives like medications and historically have had a major impact on the reduction of other serious diseases in the past such as polio.

Malaria is one of the world’s most deadly diseases, responsible for the deaths of about a million people, particularly children, every year. Prevention is considered to be the best form of treatment in the absence of a vaccine, with antimalarials such as Doxycycline and Malarone recommended to travellers.

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