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Malaria Vaccine Experiment Achieves 50% Success: NIH

Update Date: May 12, 2016 10:39 AM EDT

Malaria is one of the most dreaded disease that affects hundreds of millions of people with more than 500,000 dying from it annually. And the most disheartening part of it all is that includes innocent children aged 5 and below as singled out in a study from University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

For now, there is no remedy or medication that can address the disease though an experimental vaccine could be a good step towards that direction. The small study was found to have somehow protected adults from the mosquito-borne disease for up to one year.

"Malaria has such a devastating effect on children, especially in Africa. This vaccine has the potential to help travelers, military personnel and children in malaria-endemic areas,” bares researcher Kirsten Lyke.

Aside from rendering ample protection, the study also showed that illness would not spread to others once the vaccine is applied.

Malaria symptoms include when a person suffers a fever, headache, chills or vomiting. These normally set in a week or two after being bitten by a mosquito.

Before confirming that a person is indeed infected, extensive monitoring of a patient that will include tests is done to be sure. The observation period will however be critical since malaria could lead to severe illness which could go as far as death.

The small study conducted included 101 healthy volunteers who were exposed under a malaria-controlled setting. No one among the participants had malaria before.

Of the group, 59 were given with the vaccine (known as PfSPZ Vaccine that comes from Sanaria Inc.) along with a live but weakened from of malaria parasite called, (Plasmodium falciparum). The vaccine is the same one supported by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The participants who were given the vaccine were divided into three groups based on the dose they received, how many immunizations they have had and how the vaccine was administrered. The rest were not vaccinated.

To determine the efficiency of the experimental vaccine, the researchers analyzed the levels of the malaria parasite in blood samples taken from the participants. It was found that receiving the vaccine through an IV provided better protection over injecting vaccine into the muscles.

"In Africa, we've given up to 1.8 million parasites safely," said Dr. Robert Seder, from NIAID and the author of the study via the NY Times. "As we keep going up in dose, the results get better."

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