Global Post Articles Examine Malaria Worldwide

Global Post examines the quest for an effective vaccine to fight malaria. According to Global Post, “epidemiologists are pinning their hopes on a malaria vaccine” because “[k]illing mosquitoes, or avoiding bites, is an imprecise solution to malaria.”

Human trials on the RTS,S malaria vaccine have produced “[p]romising results,” and the vaccine could be publicly available by 2012. However, it only works 50 to 60 percent of the time and is engineered for children younger than age five who are “malaria’s most vulnerable victims,” according to Global Post.  

The news outlet reports that vaccine research has “boomed” since 1999 after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made malaria a priority. Over the past decade, the foundation has given almost a quarter billion dollars to the non-profit Malaria Vaccine Initiative, which is involved in the RTS,S project.

Global Post writes that a “first step for an adult vaccine came this spring,” after the biotech company, Sanaria, began human trials on a vaccine (Herman, Global Post[1], 6/11). Recently, the AP/Washington Post examined Sanaria’s efforts to irradiate mosquitoes in order to create a weakened malaria parasite (Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, 6/9). “The approach has been successful enough in lab tests to win FDA approval and move to the start of human trials,” Global Post reports (Global Post [1], 6/11).

In a separate article, Global Post examines how researches at Trinity College Dublin and Oxford University are using Mal – “a protein that helps determine whether a person succumbs to malaria after a mosquito bite” – to develop a vaccine. According to Luke O’Neill, a professor who directs Trinity’s School of Biochemistry and Immunology, when the human body senses a malaria parasite, “a set of sensors locks onto the intruder and sends a message to Mal, which wakes up the immune system to fight it. It doesn’t always succeed, said O’Neill.”

Adrian Hill, another professor who is working on the project, found that there are good and bad variants of Mal in humans. “The good type of Mal organizes a successful counterattack against malaria, whereas the bad Mal is either underactive, or it is overactive and destructive, like friendly fire,” Global Post writes, adding that O’Neill believes these pathways in the body are “the key to a successful fight against malaria.”

The team working under Hill, who directs the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford, is trying to activate Mal in specific ways for the development of the vaccine. O’Neill said, “Trials among chimpanzees have had a[n] 80 to 90 percent success rate, so that gives us hope with humans” (O’Clery, Global Post, 6/11).

Global Post also examines vector control methods that are used to fight malaria. According to the news outlet, “Vector control strategies do compete in a broad sense with vaccine strategies for funding. But in practice both strategies end up in use.” The article includes details about how different regions are using different vector control strategies (Herman, Global Post [2], 6/11).

Global Post also published the following malaria-related articles:

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