Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Promising vaccine may provide long-lasting protection against malaria

15.08.2002


Researchers have developed a unique vaccine that destroys a deadly toxin produced by the parasite that causes malaria, which kills more than two million people each year. The vaccine appears extremely promising in animal studies, they say.



If the drug works in humans, it could become a more effective and longer lasting anti-malarial vaccine than those currently available, according to the researchers.

Details of the research will be presented next week (Aug. 21) in Boston at the 224th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. The study will be published in the Aug. 15 issue of Nature.


"This research represents an exciting new approach to controlling malaria by blocking the toxin that is responsible for so many deaths," says Peter H. Seeberger, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. "We hope that this is the answer, but we don’t know yet."

Tests of the new vaccine in monkeys are slated to begin soon, while tests on humans could begin within two years, said Seeberger, who is co-leader of the study along with his colleague, Louis Schofield, Ph.D., of the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia.

Although other vaccines have been developed and tested against malaria, none lasts for more than a few weeks. Most target proteins on the surface of the parasite, which has the ability to change its surface proteins and eventually resist the vaccine, according to Seeberger.

The new vaccine targets the toxin instead of the parasite. Although the parasite itself lives, it is rendered harmless by the destruction of its deadly toxin, he said.

One or two shots of the vaccine are expected to provide lasting protection against the disease. If necessary, its effectiveness could be enhanced by using it in combination with other vaccines that target the malarial parasite, Seeberger said.

Malaria is a life-threatening parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito, which transfers deadly one-celled parasites to human blood in an effort to nurture her eggs. The disease can be caused by one of four different parasites. The most lethal is Plasmodium falciparum, which is also responsible for the majority of infections.

Louis Schofield recently discovered that, as part of its life cycle inside its human host, the parasite releases an inflammatory toxin that appears to trigger the fever, convulsions and deaths associated with the disease.

Previous studies by Seeberger’s colleagues demonstrated that small amounts of the toxin — a tiny carbohydrate molecule called GPI — could be used to effectively immunize mice against infection and reduce fatalities. But the human immune system does not recognize such small molecules as foreign and cannot make antibodies to destroy them.

Seeberger and Schofield designed a synthetic version of the toxin and attached it to a protein molecule in hopes that the newly created complex would be large enough for the body to recognize so that an immune response could be launched against it.

When a group of healthy, unvaccinated mice were injected with blood containing a deadly malarial parasite, all died. But when the synthetic toxin was injected into a group of healthy mice and they were subsequently injected with the parasite, 65 to 95 percent survived.

The immunized mice also had enhanced protection from severe inflammatory conditions associated with the disease, including swelling of the brain, the researchers found.

Seeberger and his colleagues are continuing to refine their vaccine formulations to achieve a 100 percent survival rate. They hope that similar results will be seen in people.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria is one of the major public health problems, along with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, in the poorest regions of the world. More than 90 percent of deaths from malaria occur in Africa, mostly among infants and young children. It is estimated that the disease kills one African child every 30 seconds.

More recently, a dramatic surge in the number of malaria cases occurring among U.S. travelers to areas where the disease is common has been reported.


Funding for this research was provided by the National Institutes of Health, the United Nations Development Programme/World Bank/WHO Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, the Human Frontiers of Science Program, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Australian National Health & Medical Research Council.

The paper on this research, CARB 81, will be presented at 9:25 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 21, at Sheraton Boston, Republic B, during the symposium, "Carbohydrate Immunology and Therapeutics."

Peter H. Seeberger, Ph.D., is an associate professor of chemistry in the department of chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

Louis Schofield, Ph.D., is a researcher at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia.


Mark T. Sampson

Beverly Hassell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.acs.org/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht When wheels and heads are spinning - DFG research project on motion sickness in automated driving
22.05.2019 | Technische Universität Berlin

nachricht A new approach to targeting cancer cells
20.05.2019 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The geometry of an electron determined for the first time

Physicists at the University of Basel are able to show for the first time how a single electron looks in an artificial atom. A newly developed method enables them to show the probability of an electron being present in a space. This allows improved control of electron spins, which could serve as the smallest information unit in a future quantum computer. The experiments were published in Physical Review Letters and the related theory in Physical Review B.

The spin of an electron is a promising candidate for use as the smallest information unit (qubit) of a quantum computer. Controlling and switching this spin or...

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

Im Focus: A step towards probabilistic computing

Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future

When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Dissolving protein traffic jam at the entrance of mitochondria

23.05.2019 | Life Sciences

Fraunhofer IBMT at BIO 2019: Automation solutions for workflows in stem cell process engineering

23.05.2019 | Trade Fair News

Galaxies As “Cosmic Cauldrons”

23.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>