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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

10/20/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Tests of new vaccine have shown 50 percent success rate

A vaccine known as known as RTS,S, is giving hope in the war against malaria - so much so that 15,000 children in seven African countries are participating in the trial, which represents the furthest that any malaria vaccine candidate has ever gone. To date, RTS,S has a 50 percent success rate.

As for possible side effects of the vaccine, the CDC's Mary Hamel says there was some increased incidence of fever and associated seizures in the older age group during the seven days following the RTS,S vaccination -- but they were rare and all the children recovered.

As for possible side effects of the vaccine, the CDC's Mary Hamel says there was some increased incidence of fever and associated seizures in the older age group during the seven days following the RTS,S vaccination -- but they were rare and all the children recovered.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/20/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Malaria, Africa, vaccine, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Malaria, a deadly mosquito-borne virus has been the scourge of the African continent for years. A vaccine against the disease has eluded scientists for decades, but preliminary results from a phase 3 clinical trial in Africa are providing hope.

The preliminary results, announced at a malaria forum hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, covered 6,000 of the participating children, all aged between 5 and 17 months.

GlaxoSmithKline and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, which receives funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said it showed roughly a 50 percent reduction in malaria cases in a 12-month period following vaccination.

"Scientists have been working to develop a malaria vaccine for 40 years, and these findings show that we are on track in the development of a vaccine for African children, those who need it most," Dr. Mary Hamel of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Hamel is one of the principal investigators on the study.

Children, less than five years old account for the majority of the 800,000 people who die of malaria annually.

To administer the trials, the Kenyan government joined with the CDC and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Dr. Louis Macareo, who directs Walter Reed's clinical trial center in Kombewa, says this vaccine is unique. In lieu of attacking the parasite, the vaccine seeks to boost the immune system.

"When you get malaria, it spawns off a cascade of events in your body where your body produces antibodies that fight against the malaria," he said. "What we try to duplicate with the vaccine is to stimulate the body's immune system to produce similar antibodies."

As for possible side effects of the vaccine, the CDC's Mary Hamel says there was some increased incidence of fever and associated seizures in the older age group during the seven days following the RTS,S vaccination -- but they were rare and all the children recovered.

If approved for widespread use, RTS,S would be given in tandem with other childhood vaccines. This will enable many African nations' overstretched health systems to introduce it with little difficulty.

The vaccine's developers say a 30-month analysis of the vaccine's effectiveness will be complete by the end of 2014. If the results remain positive, the World Health Organization says it could recommend the vaccine as early as 2015.

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