A new Japanese malaria vaccine cuts infections ‘by 72%’
A TEAM of Japanese researchers say they have developed a vaccine that cuts the risk of malaria developing in humans by more than two-thirds.
The disease, which is carried by parasite-bearing mosquitoes, kills around 650,000 people each year – mostly African children under five – according to the United Nation’s World Health Organisation (WHO).
While there are a number of preventative medicines already in use, scientists say drug resistance is growing.
Researchers from Osaka University have developed a dry powder vaccine called BK-SE36, from a genetically-modified protein found inside the parasite, which they mixed with aluminium hydroxyl gel.
”The vaccine’s effect is greater than those hitherto reported of any other antimalaria vaccines,” a statement issued last week said, adding that BK-SE36 is expected to reduce markedly the number of deaths caused by the mosquito-borne disease.
The vaccine has already undergone trials on adults in Japan and was also tested in a malaria-endemic area in northern Uganda between 2010 and 2011. Neither study found any safety problems.
A follow-up study of people in Uganda, aged between six and 20, found that the vaccine lowered the number of people infected by malaria by 72%.
The findings were published Tuesday on the online US science journal PLOS One, according to the statement.
BK-SE36 far outperformed the 31% decline achieved by another new vaccine developed by a British company, the statement said.
Professor Toshihiro Horii, who led the study, told Jiji Press he wants to put BK-SE36 to practical use “in five years after conducting a clinical trial on infants between zero and five, who account for the bulk of malaria deaths”.
The study came as a non-profit group said on Friday that it was launching a project to comb the catalogues of some of Japan’s biggest drug companies in the hunt for treatments for diseases that kill thousands of people every year.
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