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Health
The World’s First Malaria Vaccine, Partly Developed By Canadians, Is Undergoing Human Trials
July 8, 2013
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A female mosquito in Florida's Everglades in 2002 (Photo: Getty)

Malaria is a dangerous, and often deadly disease, and almost half of the world's population is at risk of contracting it.

In 2010 alone, about 660,000 people died of malaria - and there is currently no way of vaccinating against the disease.

But researchers in Australia - including Canadian and U.S. scientists - have made a breakthrough.

A team at Griffith University Institute for Glycomics has developed the world's first malaria vaccine.

The treatment has already proven effective in animal trials - in testing, it prevented all strains of malaria, whereas other attempted vaccines have only worked on specific strains.

The next step is testing the vaccine's effectiveness for human beings. First-stage human trials are under way at the moment.

Professor Michael Good, the head of the research team, says developing an effective vaccine could be incredibly important in the fight against the disease, as drug treatments tend to lose their potency over time.

"The parasite develops a resistance and changes itself so it can fight the drugs," he told the Courier-Mail.

"The problem with a drug treatment is that we're running out of options and the way to handle that is to have a vaccine."

When they created their vaccine, the research team took a different approach from earlier attempts.

"Most vaccines we have stimulate antibodies but this vaccine doesn't work that way, it stimulates T cells as opposed to antibodies," he said.

"It's very different and gives us a new strategy."

While testing on humans has begun, the vaccine won't be available for mass consumption for some time: Professor Good says it will require six more years of successful testing before it comes on the market.

But if it makes it through the testing phase, the technology should be fairly easy to produce on a mass scale due to its simplicity.

"Forty per cent of the world's population is at risk of malaria so the technology needs to be very simple to be able to be made at that scale," Good said.

Via Inhabitat

Related:

Can A Smartphone App Diagnose Malaria?

Researchers Find A Way To Turn Off Mosquitoes Love For Human Scent

Let's End It: April 25th Is International Malaria Day

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