New success in search for malaria vaccine
10/12/2007 – by D+C | E+Z
The first possible vaccine against malaria has undergone successful testing in newborn trials in Mozambique. In the online edition of The Lancet at the end of October, a research group led by Spanish expert Pedro Alonso posted a report on trials conducted on 214 babies aged from 10 to 18 weeks. The results showed that the vaccinated newborns had a 65% lower risk of infection in the first three months of life.
Three years ago, Alonso and his team tested the same candidate vaccine on one- to four-year-olds in Mozambique and found that the drug cut the risk of infection by 58% across the group – and by 77% for those under two. The trials now conducted on newborns were carried out to establish how safe the vaccine is and to show what side-effects might occur in babies. Newborns are particularly at risk from malaria because their immune system is not fully developed.
A year from now, a crucial phase 3 trial is due to be launched, administering the vaccine to as many children as possible to furnish reliable evidence of its efficacy. Then a licence will be sought for its use.
The trials in Mozambique were mostly financed by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Anticipating licensure, we are already working with our partners and with international donors to ensure that this vaccine is affordable and available to all who need it,” said Jean Stéphenne of the GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine division. (ell)