Nature Medicine | Spoonful of Medicine

Malaria vaccine holds strong in trial

freeborniwithlogo_300crop.jpgResearchers reported today that the most advanced experimental malaria vaccine developed to date, GlaxoSmithKline’s Mosquirix, provides African children with long-lasting protection against the infectious disease.

In the phase 2 trial, which tracked nearly 900 children in Kenya and Tanzania for 15 months, the risk of infection was cut by about half in those who received the experimental vaccine. The results are comparable with initial findings reported in 2008.

The study authors caution, however, that follow-up trials are still needed to test the efficacy of Mosquirix in children who are malnourished or are HIV-positive, according to Reuters.

With vaccine efficacy hovering at only around 50%, Louis Miller, head of malaria research at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in Bethesda, Maryland, says that a more protective vaccine is still needed. “It’s good, but they can do much better,” he told Nature Medicine.

To increase protection levels against the disease, last April UK-based GlaxoSmithKline announced a partnership with the Dutch biotech Crucell — the manufacturer of another vaccine currently in phase 1 trials in Burkina Faso — to develop a combined vaccine that integrates both companies’ candidate interventions.

Mosquirix is being co-developed by the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The vaccine is currently in phase 3 clinical trials in 11 sites in seven countries across sub-Saharan Africa.

For more on the challenges of developing a malaria vaccine, see the Bench to Bedside and Bedside to Bench commentaries from this month’s issue of Nature Medicine.

Image of the malaria-spreading mosquito from the CDC

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