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Thursday 27th October 2016

Malaria vaccine hope

1st February 2008

Researchers believe they are on the verge of a major step forward in their efforts to develop a vaccine to combat malaria.


A team from Oxford University believe a chimp virus, which they are using to provoke an immune response in cells where the parasites responsible for malaria gather, may hold an important clue in their search.

Trials are now under way to develop a vaccine for the condition, which kills more than one million people worldwide every year. If the trials do prove successful, scientists believe the vaccine may be available in five years’ time.

The scientists are working on a genetically-modified chimp adenovirus and combining it with a malaria gene in their efforts to kill the parasites once they enter the body.

Lead researcher Dr Sarah Gilbert explained that the main reason scientists chose the Chimpanzee virus  "to form the backbone of the new vaccine" is because the primate has their own set of adenoviruses which rarely infect humans and consequently, humans have not built up immunity to them.

Malaria experts say the Oxford University team’s project, which is one of a number that has reached the trial stage for a vaccine, showed promise.

Colin Sutherland, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "I think we are getting closer with a vaccine and there is more confidence now than there has been for 10 years. The problem is that it is so complex and if we do get there it will be one of the biggest vaccine achievements."


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