Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases progressing to coma or death. It is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions, including much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It claims nearly 800,000 lives a year, most of them children under five.
Chloroquine may be used where the parasite is still sensitive. However due to resistance one of three medications: mefloquine (Lariam), doxycycline, and the combination of atovaquone and proguanil hydrochloride (Malarone) is needed. Doxycycline and the atovaquone and proguanil combination are best tolerated with mefloquine in case of neurological and psychiatric symptoms.
Development of Malaria vaccine
Scientists at British drug company GlaxoSmithKline have shown the results of the largest-ever malaria vaccine study, involving 15,460 babies and small children that can reduce the impact of the disease. The vaccine has been in development for almost two decades.
GSK chief executive Andrew Witty said, ”The addition of a malaria vaccine to existing control interventions such as bed nets and insecticide spraying could...
potentially help prevent millions of cases of this debilitating disease.”
He said the scientists were attempting the impossible when they started work on a vaccine 25 years ago.”When the team was first shown the data, quite a number of them broke down in tears,” he said. ”It was the emotion of what they had achieved – the first vaccine against a parasitic form of infection. They were overwhelmed. It says something about the amount of heart that has gone into this project.”
All the children received three doses either of vaccine or a placebo. Over the 12 months after immunization, the vaccine cut their risk of developing clinical malaria by 56% and of developing severe malaria by 47%.
The World Health Organization has said that if the results are satisfactory, it will issue a recommendation for its use and the vaccine may begin to be rolled out as early as 2015.