British scientists have developed an experimental vaccine that has the potential to neutralise all strains of a deadly species of malaria.
Malaria is a tropical disease spread by night-biting mosquitoes found in tropical and sub-tropical regions, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Malaria is caused by night-biting mosquitoes in sub-tropical regions
Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, and it only takes a single bite from an infected mosquito to become infected with the disease.
The most dangerous type of malaria is malaria caused by the falciparum parasite, which multiplies very rapidly in human red blood cells and causes almost all of the 655,000 malaria deaths worldwide each year.
The team of British researchers had previously pinpointed a single receptor for a protein called RH5 that is critical for the malaria parasite to gain entry into red blood cells. They discovered that by blocking this entry, they could halt the disease in its tracks.
Now, they have developed a vaccine that has the potential to prevent many strains of the P. falciparum parasite, and have tested it successfully on mice and rabbits.
Published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists say that they plan to take the vaccine into early stage human trials in two to three years.
Simon Draper, of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, said: "What's exciting about RH5 is that we've shown that antibodies against this protein have so far knocked down every parasite we've been able to test in the laboratory.”
"We haven't found one yet that the vaccine isn't able to stop."
If human trials prove successful, researchers say that the new vaccine could be available worldwide in just ten year's time, saving the lives of millions of people worldwide.
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