Researchers from Johns Hopkins, Walter Reed, and the Institute of Primate Research in Kenya are developing an innovative vaccine against malaria. Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite (Genus Plasmodium) that invades the liver and red blood cells. The disease kills about one million people world wide each year and there are over 245 million people infected world wide.
The parasite spends part of its life cycle in humans, and part of its life in mosquitoes, and is spread from human to human via a mosquito bite from the female Anopheles mosquito.
Rather than preventing the transmission of the parasite from mosquito to humans, this vaccine prevents the transmission from human back to the mosquito. The vaccine won't help someone who is already infected, but could stop the spread of the disease through a community if the parasite can't get from infected humans back into the mosquito.
The researchers used genetically modified bacteria to make proteins found on the parasite during different stages of its sexual development, and then injected those into mice. The mice made antibodies against these proteins. The binding of the antibodies to the proteins on the parasite, stopped the parasite from reproducing.
After the mice received a booster shot transmission was reduced from mice to mosquitos by 98%.
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