Mosquito Saliva Provides Interesting New Research In Malaria
A small trial conducted in the US has shown some very promising early results in the vaccination against malaria. The investigational product, PfSPZ, developed by Sanoria concentrates on the known effect of exposure to previously-irradiated, malaria-infected mosquitoes. The high dose treatment led to a protection rate of 80% in the test subjects which is certainly statistically significant, even at such an early stage of research.
The treatment seems basic as it involves the injection of live but weakened malaria-causing parasites directly into the bloodstream via a transfusion catheter. In reality, this is an expensive and elaborate treatment as the protozoans have to be extracted from the mosquito’s salivary glands by hand before being collected in vials and prepared for injection.
The study, published in the journal Science, was conducted on 57 (extremely brave) volunteers who had no history of malaria. Of the participants, 40 were vaccinated with varying doses of the treatment and 17 were given no dose at all. They were then all exposed to malaria. Of the 15 people treated with the high-dose, only three contracted malaria. Practically everyone else contracted malaria. This study has confirmed that the treatment works, but also that a high-dose is needed for maximum efficacy.
The long-term clinical future of this treatment is in doubt though as the treatment is expensive and difficult to implement; for starters, the need to infuse this drug into the bloodstream hardly lends itself to a clinical study on a large scale. It is also worth remembering that resources may be limited in the country which needs this vaccine most of all, Africa. With that in mind, this research can be treated as more of a technological advance than a vaccine right now, but the study is still very important in our understanding of malaria.
Malaria is an enormous global concern, with around 220 million people suffering from it around the world and it causes 660’000 deaths every year. There are currently around 20 vaccines in the trial stage, most notably is the GSK trial into RTS,SFA501 which is currently in a phase 3 trial in Africa, being undertaken on 15’000 children.
To read more about this trial and other work into malaria, please click here:
The beautiful photograph of the plump mosquito is provided courtesy of http://uk.images.search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0PDodkqDh1SRyMA1NhWBQx.;_ylu=X3oDMTBtdXBkbHJyBHNlYwNmcC1hdHRyaWIEc2xrA3J1cmw-/SIG=13bft0d3n/EXP=1377664682/**http%3a//greatexperimentsblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/sickle-cellmalaria-mystery-solved.html