Malaria Conference Begins In Nairobi, Will Highlight Outlook For RTS,S Experimental Malaria Vaccine

The 5th Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan-African Conference “kicked off in Nairobi late Sunday with a call for substantial and sustained support for research to guide evidence-based policies and the development of new malaria tools, which together could save countless lives,” Xinhua reports (11/2).

About 1,500 health workers and researchers are attending the talks, which will feature information about GlaxoSmithKline’s experimental vaccine Mosquirix, which is the “first anti-malaria shot to make it to final-stage clinical trial,” CBC News writes (11/1). Scientists said the vaccine – which is also known as RTS,S – is likely to be distributed in Africa after 2015, London’s Times reports.” Vaccine developers will tell the conference that the phase three trial is under way in seven countries around Africa, marking a major step in bringing the drug to licence,” the newspaper reports. Though the vaccine is not a “magic bullet” against malaria, its latest trials are expected to bring it within regulatory approval.

“Joe Cohen, vice-president of vaccine research and development at GSK, and one of the inventors of RTS,S, said that initial data would be filed within the next 12 months, with trial results expected by 2012 and implementation by 2015. ‘There is enormous excitement at reaching this milestone of this pivotal phase three trial. We are really forging ahead now,’ he said,” the Times writes (Lister, 11/2).

If Mosquirix proves to be successful, it could “free up bed space in hospitals and radically change the health financing landscape … across [Africa]. Many countries in Africa spend a huge percentage of their health budgets on malaria,” the Standard reports. The article explores the vaccine trials with a focus on the tests in Kenya (Orengo, 11/1).

The conference “is the first such meeting since 2005, when the event took place in Yaounde, Cameroon. Meanwhile, much has happened, in terms both of scientific advances and increased funding for research and control efforts. The elimination of malaria as a public health problem is now back on the agenda,” TropIKA writes in an article examining the conference and malaria worldwide (Chinnock, 10/31).

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