Saturday, January 28, 2023

RNA vaccines also demonstrate their efficacy against malaria

These two experimental vaccines have been developed by scientists from George Washington University, in the United States, and are a breakthrough in trying to eradicate a disease that affects more than 240 million people each year, and causes the death of more than half a million patients worldwide.

After demonstrating its high efficacy in animals, these researchers from the United States are going to request authorization from the US administration to start the first clinical trial with humans.

According to the results of this pioneering project, this new RNA technology could save millions of lives and move towards the elimination of malaria, one of the oldest tropical diseases and transmitted by a parasite.

Malaria is found in more than 90 countries around the world and each year causes 240 million cases and 627,000 deaths.

success with covid

Recent technological advances in the development of mRNA vaccines for SARS-CoV2 could lead to a new generation of malaria vaccines.

Now, a research team led by George Washington University has developed two mRNA vaccine candidates that are highly effective in reducing both infection and transmission of malaria.

The team also found that the two experimental vaccines elicited a strong immune response regardless of whether they were administered individually or in combination. The study has been published today in “npj Vaccines”, a scientific journal that is part of Nature.

“The elimination of malaria will not happen overnight, but such vaccines could potentially eliminate malaria from many parts of the world,” confirms Nirbhay Kumar, a researcher at George Washington University.

In fact, mRNA vaccine technology has already proven to be very effective against COVID and this group of scientists have adapted it to combat malaria.

deadly disease

This research team focused on the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, one of the four parasite species that cause malaria and the deadliest to humans. Transmitted through the bite of the Anopheles mosquito, P. falciparum together with P. vivax are responsible for more than 90% of all malaria cases worldwide and 95% of all malaria deaths.

Most cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, yet half the world’s population is at risk of contracting this deadly disease. Kumar’s team developed two mRNA vaccines to disrupt different parts of the parasite’s life cycle.

The researchers immunized a group of mice with an mRNA vaccine that targeted a protein that helps parasites move through the body and invade the liver. They immunized another group of mice with a vaccine that targets a protein that helps parasites reproduce in a mosquito’s midgut. Immunized mice were then challenged with the parasite causing the infection and tested for vaccine-induced antibodies to interrupt malaria transmission.

promising results

The study found that both vaccines induced a strong immune response in the mice and were highly effective in reducing infection in the host and in the vector mosquito. The presence of protective antibodies during parasite transmission to healthy mosquitoes dramatically reduced the parasite load in the mosquitoes, an important step in interrupting malaria transmission, according to the researchers.

“These vaccines were very effective in preventing infections and almost completely eliminated the potential for transmission,” concludes Professor Kumar.

The team also immunized mice with both vaccines together and found that co-immunization effectively reduced infection and transmission without compromising the immune response.

This project has been funded by the US National Institutes of Health and scientists have already applied for a patent for these two new vaccines developed in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania.

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