Oxford scientists recently developed a novel new Malaria Vaccine which can protect against the deadly mosquito-borne disease.
The vaccine has shown promising results in the first clinical trial to test whether it can protect people against the disease.
The trial was carried out by researchers led by Professor Adrian Hill of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, along with researchers from the biotechnology company Okairos. It's the first time that a vaccine has been shown to have a protective effect through a sufficiently high immune response involving cells called CD8 T cells. It is CD8 immune cells that are seen to mount a protective response against malaria in similar studies in mice.
Every existing vaccine in use - bar one - generates antibodies. But there are two arms to the body's immune system for fighting infection: antibodies and T cells.This new vaccine aims to stimulate an immune response involving T cells. CD8 T cells are important because they are the primary killer cells in the immune system.
They can attack nearly all types of infected cells in this case liver cells infected with the malaria parasite. But this first demonstration of a large CD8 response from a vaccine could be relevant for tackling other diseases too.
Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver, and then infect red blood cells.
Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, and vomiting, and usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite. If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs. In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to a number of malaria medicines.
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Who: Oxford Scientists
When: November 2013