Mosquitoes used to deliver malaria ‘vaccine’
The results were astounding: Everyone in the vaccine group acquired immunity to malaria; everyone in a non-vaccinated comparison group did not and developed malaria when exposed to the parasites later.
While using mosquitoes as vaccinators is impractical, the use of the live malaria parasites may be key to developing an effective traditionally-dispensed vaccine. One of the Study’s researchers, Dr. Robert Sauerwein, cautioned: “This is not a vaccine” as in a commercial product, but a way to show how whole parasites can be used like a vaccine to protect against disease”
The Study published in the New England Journal of Medicine capitalized on the facts that people can develop immunity to malaria if exposed to it many times and the drug chloroquine can kill parasites in the final bloodstream phase, when they are most dangerous.
The Study’s subjects where given chloroquine to protect them while they were gradually exposed to malaria parasites. Through this process, the subjects developed immunity.
Sanaria Inc. is in the process of testing a vaccine that uses live parasites.
New ways to prevent or treat malaria are needed because there is a growing resistance to artemisnin and chloroquine in areas heavily plagued by malaria outbreaks.
Malaria kills nearly a million people each year, mostly children under 5. The disease is spread mostly through mosquito bites.
For more information please see: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/361/5/468.