Researchers Make Progress Toward Malaria Vaccine
Malaria is one of the world's deadliest diseases and
causes millions of preventable deaths each year, particularly among young
children. Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, making this disease particularly
prevalent in developing nations where poor sanitation and lack of access to
medical facilities are serious problems. Researchers believe they have made
significant progress in developing a vaccine, a
breakthrough that could save countless lives.
A New Hope
Scientists at the
Seattle Biomedical Research Institute discovered that the development of an
effective malaria vaccine may be possible by genetically modifying the malarial
parasite carried by mosquitoes known as Plasmodium falciparum.
Researchers exposed six volunteer test subjects to the genetically modified
parasite, which was delivered through the bite of Anopheles mosquitoes
much in the same manner as typical malaria. In all six cases, the study
participants were able to produce antibodies that successfully halted the
"Our approach is to genetically engineer parasites by
deletion of specific genes that are critical for their replication in the
liver," says Stefan Kappe, a professor at the institute and co-author of the
study. "The genetically attenuated parasites can infect the liver, but cannot
complete their development and therefore cannot infect the red blood cells. We
call this the 'can check in but cannot check out' approach."
This research has
significant implications for medical science, because although malaria can be
treated with a regimen of medication after infection, it remains one of the
world's most serious and prevalent preventable diseases.
In 2010, 91
percent of the world's confirmed malaria cases were reported in Africa, and
children under the age of 5 are at particular risk. One day, perhaps children
will be vaccinated against this deadly disease, but until then, action must be
taken to save lives.
One way you can help ChildFund do this is by making
a donation to our project to provide Kenyan families with chemically
treated mosquito nets. These nets deter the mosquitoes that carry the
malarial parasite and can substantially reduce a child's likelihood of being
infected. To date, we have raised more than $10,000, but to achieve our goal of
$23,476, we need your help. Please consider making a donation to this special
project today — your support will save the lives of Kenyan children.