Wining The Malaria Battle: The RTS, S Malaria Vaccine

Wining The Malaria Battle: The RTS, S Malaria Vaccine

 

The drone of the mosquito is an irritant for most of us, sending us reaching for a rolled up newspaper or a spray of repellent to avoid an unpleasant itchy bite. But for millions of people in Nigeria these mosquitoes herald a much more serious threat –malaria.

In the last few decades, science has given us the opportunity to prevent and treat many diseases and alter the natural progression of others. Vaccines have turned the tide against once widespread diseases such as polio and tetanus. Yet a Malaria Vaccine has remained elusive.

Little wonder wen you consider that Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite responsible for the most lethal type of malaria, is a clever yet microscopic opponent which uncannily morphs its complex genetic makeup and its appearance. This enables it to become resistant to the treatments used against it and to evade normal human immune responses. By changing the proteins on its surface, it prevents the body from mounting an effective defense as it might against many viruses or bacteria.

So how can science be harnessed to tackle this tiny killer? All over the world, a multitude of imaginative approaches are being considered. There are established measures such as using bed net and insect sprays to stop people from bite and infections, as well as early stage research to genetically modify mosquitoes so that their immune system attacks the parasite they carry, and efforts to create sterile mosquitoes to reduce their overall numbers. But for many, an effective vaccine remains the best hope to control malaria. The RTS,S malaria vaccine which is currently being investigated in late stage studies in Africa was designed  with a portion of the parasite’s main surface protein fused to a protein of a virus that the body can more readily recognize---in this case hepatitis B virus surface protein. the hypothesis is that this would help to stimulate

Promoting Access to Effective Malaria