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GlaxoSmithKline seeks approval for the world’s first viable anti-malarial vaccine

falciparumA major milestone has been passed in the fight against the world’s leading cause of illness and death.  Malaria, which has killed more people than all of the wars of human history, kills about 800,000 people a year, three quarters of whom are young children, mostly in Africa.  Now GlaxoSmithKline has unveiled a vaccine at a meeting in South Africa, giving details of a trial involving 15,500 children in seven countries.  Eighteen months after vaccination, children aged five to 17 months showed a 46% reduction in the risk of clinical malaria, and in children aged six to 12 weeks at vaccination, a 27% reduction in risk.  This means that hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved with it each year.

I’ve not seen many details yet, but the vaccine appears to work at the pre-erythrocytic stage, before the plasmodium falciparum emerges from the liver and invades red cells.  A key factor in its adoption and use will be cost. GlaxoSmithKline has declared its intention to produce and distribute the vaccine without seeking any profit, which is admirable.  If it can be done at less than $1 a dose, it will be widely used.  Credit is also due to the non-profit Path Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), and to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which helped with the funding.  This is excellent news, and will hopefully be only a first step when it starts to be used, perhaps in 2015.  It is not a complete answer, but with bed nets, insect repellents, malaria drugs and the targeted killing of mosquito breeding grounds, plus the development of more refined versions of vaccines, we can finally begin to eradicate humanity’s oldest enemy.


One Response

  1. This is an interesting development concerning GlaxoSmithKline’s research with the malaria vaccine particularly due to their statement about non profit intentions. The pharmaceutical industry is known for it’s huge profits and to some extent it does not want to find ‘ cure’s ‘ for the diseases affecting the human race. It is far more profitable to provide continuous treatment using their often expensive medications rather than a complete cure which would ‘ close the circle ‘. My wife has coped with Parkinson’s Disease for over 20 years and has helped raise a considerable amount of money involving Parkinson’s UK who donate around £15 million each year for research into a cure. Much of this is done in the Universities who specialize in neurological problems. Stem cell research looks promising but a large leap forward is required and this means awareness and money.

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