Health Experts Plan to Test Malaria Vaccine
    2009-06-04 19:46:45     Xinhua      Web Editor: Zhang Xu

Health experts said malaria vaccine Phase III will be tried in seven countries in sub-Saharan region in Africa in the coming 11 months.

The introduction of the third vaccine is a result of high death rates reported in Africa killing approximately 900,000 people each year with a majority of death occurring in children under the age of five years.

Speaking during the workshop on Malaria Vaccine Trials in Mombasa, Malaria researcher at Kenya Medical Research Institute Patricia Njuguna said the vaccine would have the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives each year.

"A vaccine would complement and enhance existing measures to fight malaria, such as bed nets and indoor residual spraying," Njuguna said.

The vaccine "RTS, S", also called "RTS, S/AS", is the most clinically advanced malaria vaccine in the world.

It is the first vaccine to demonstrate that it can protect young children (in 1994) and infants (in 2007) living in malaria endemic areas against clinical diseases and infection, caused by Plasmodium falciparum the most deadly species in the malaria parasites.

"RYS, S" is derived from the components parts of the antigen in the vaccine. Genetically modified yeast is used to produce the CS protein's repeat region, which is represented by "R".

The yeast is also programmed as protein represented by "T" that teaches T-cells to recognize malaria parasite. "S" stands for the hepatitis B antigen which is used to yield a high immune response.

The finals "S" represents the extras un-fused hepatitis B- antigen that is included to make the entire antigen on the parasite's surface large enough to be noticed by immune system.

Nguguna said that with the help from scientists in the world, the Phase lll trial is designed to confirm safety and further determine the efficiency of the vaccine in the infants and children.

"The land mark Phase lll study is expected to enroll up to 16, 000 infants and children at 11 sites in seven African counties, making it the largest malaria vaccine trial to date," she said.

"Vaccine will begin in Gabon, Mozambique, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Burkina Faso, pending required local and national approval."

As one of the sponsors, Oxford University from Europe is doing its research on malaria in Kilfi District in Coast Province.

In Kenya, the trial is scheduled to be conducted Kisumu and Siaya in western region so as to know its efficiency.

The funding for the development of the vaccine is being funded by Bill and Melinda Gated Foundation to Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) which they gave a grant of 104.6 million U.S. dollars.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has invested fore than 300 million U.S. dollars to date and expects to invest at least another 100 million dollars before the completion of the project.


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