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First genetically-engineered malaria vaccine to enter human trials

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute scientists have created a weakened strain of the malaria parasite that will be used as a live vaccine against the disease. The vaccine, developed in collaboration with researchers from the US, Japan and Canada, will be trialled in humans from early next year.

Professor Cowman said similar vaccines had been tested in mice and offered 100 per cent protection against malaria infection. He said it was hoped the vaccine would produce similar results in humans. "Although two genes have been deleted the parasite is still alive and able to stimulate the body's protective immune system to recognize and destroy incoming mosquito-transmitted deadly parasites," Professor Cowman said.

This approach to vaccine development – using a weakened form of the whole organism that causes a particular disease – has proven successful in eradicating smallpox and controlling diseases such as flu and polio.

The human trials of the vaccine will take place at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland, US.
 
 

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