In the August 8 online edition of Science, researchers representing the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) reported the results of a Phase I clinical trial in which more than 50 adults were intravenously immunized with a malaria vaccine made of whole Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) sporozoites. The study's authors include Robert A. Seder, M.D., chief of cellular immunology at the NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center.
To date, the only way to achieve long-lasting protection against malaria has been to allow human subjects to suffer bites from mosquitos carrying Pf sporozoites—the cells that develop in the Anopheles mosquito's salivary glands. In response to these bites, human subjects may boost their immunity.
For as long as the efficacy of allowing mosquitoes to bite humans has been known—about 40 years—the deficiencies of this approach have been known, too. Malaria remains one of mankind’s greatest scourges. In 2010, according to the World Health Organization, there were 216 million episodes of malaria and 655,000 deaths worldwide. Of these deaths, around 91% occurred in the African region, followed by the Southeast Asian region (6%) and the Eastern Mediterranean region (3%). About 86% of deaths globally were among children.