Malaria vaccine on the way?

Martin Elmund from Malaria No More, who has also been covering the Gates Malaria Forum, writes today about news regarding “RTS,S, the world’s most clinically advanced malaria vaccine candidate.” Elmund explains:

A joint project between GlaxoSmithKline and the Gates-funded Malaria Vaccine Initiative, RTS,S works in two ways. First, it prepares the defense mechanisms of a person to recognize and respond to the malaria parasite before it encounters the genuine article. Second, it helps t-cells attack the parasite as it emerges from the liver (the first stop in the body where it multiplies some 40,000X) and begins to infiltrate red blood cells.

In 2004, RTS,S was shown to provide greater than 50% protection against infection in children 1-to-4 years old. The new study finds that among children under one, the vaccine provides 65% protection against new infections over three months.

This is significant because children 18 months and younger bear a disproportionate burden from the disease: 30% to 50% of the severe disease and deaths occur in that age group. Until now, it was unknown whether the vaccine could help shield them from malaria.

The Times also picks up on the same story save this nugget, ‘Time and again scientists have been on the brink of success only to have their hopes publicly and painfully dashed. The height of false hope, perhaps, was in 1984 when the NY Times ran the headline “Malaria Vaccine is Near.”’

According to Elmund:

Researchers were so confident they’d cracked the code that they tested the vaccine on themselves just before flying to a conference where they expected to declare victory. They came down with malaria symptoms the morning after they landed.