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Dr. Fauci: Investigational malaria vaccine found safe and protective

Dr. Fauci discusses how the malaria vaccine was developed

The vaccine does not have a particular name. It is made by a company, Sanaria. It is still in the experimental stage. And it is based on the premise of taking the parasite – the malaria parasite – and eradiating it so that it’s in a weakened or attenuated form. And what this accomplishes is to induce a significant degree of immunity. So the experiment was as follows – sterilely raised mosquitoes were infected with malaria parasite – the Plasmodium falciparum, the sporozoites that were weakened within the eradiated mosquitoes were dissected out and the weakened sporozoites were used as a vaccine. It was found that in a group of normal volunteers, who received the higher doses of this vaccine, that the degree of protection against subsequent challenge with truly infected mosquitoes was extraordinarily high. In fact, at the very highest dose of the most vaccine injections – namely five injections of the highest dose – the protection in six individuals was six out of six, or 100 percent. That’s the very encouraging news. There’s still a lot of work to be done. One – this is still a relatively small number of people, so the experiments have to be repeated in a larger number of people. We have to determine what we call the durability of response – namely does the protection last for a considerable period of time? And does it protect against different variations of the Plasmodium falciparum parasite? So again, the good news is that the high degree of efficacy is there. And the cautious news is that this is still relatively few people in the study and a number of other things need to be addressed, including the fact that this was administered intravenously, which logistically is a difficult thing to do on a broad, mass vaccination scale. And so one has to figure out a way how to be able to administer this – either by a special gadget or a special device that could simplify the administration intravenously or alternatively, to administer it in a different route – like subcutaneously or intradermally into the skin, and yet still get the same highly efficacious effect.

Dr. Fauci discusses the efficacy of the malaria vaccine.

The findings are promising because of the high degree of efficacy – again, particularly at the highest dose with the maximum number of injections – five – in a relatively small number of people to be sure – nonetheless the efficacy was close to if not 100 percent.

This page last reviewed on March 10, 2014

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