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Tuesday 27th September 2016
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Malaria vaccine trial results 'frustrating'

13th November 2012

A new malaria vaccine has proved to have lower efficacy than researchers previously thought.

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In the recent trial, the vaccine was given to infants less than 12 weeks old.

Last year, a similar trial on children between the ages of 5 and 17 months showed a much higher level of protection.

Despite the poor results, the trial did seem to prove that the vaccine was safe.

The vaccine's development was part of the PATH malaria vaccine initiative.

Salam Abdulla, chief executive of the Ifkara health institute in Tanzania, who led the new trial, said that he and his colleagues would continue to experiment with dosages and boosters.

David Kaslow, director of the PATH malaria vaccine initiative, said that researchers were still two years away from the final results of their initiative.

He said that one size did not fit all when it came to treating malaria, and that the final product may involve different combinations of drugs.

The vaccine, known as RTS,S, reduced the incidence of clinical malaria by 31% in the recent trial.

It also reduced the incidence of severe malaria by 37%.

The trial was carried out on more than 6,000 babies between the ages of 6 and 12 weeks.

Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, the company working with the PATH malaria initiative in developing the new vaccine, said that it was frustrating to find that the vaccine affected different age groups differently.

He said that researchers would have been excited to see a repeat performance of last year's success rate.

But side effects such as meningitis and convulsions were also noted in last year's trials, and researchers were criticised for the seemingly arbitrary publication date of their initial results.

Nevertheless, the initial study showed the vaccine was capable of producing a 56% drop in clinical malaria, as well as a 47% fall in severe malaria cases.

The three doses of RTS,S were given at one-month intervals.

The researchers believe that the drug's lower efficacy in different age groups could be due to differing immune responses.

But the difference may also have to do with the way malaria transmission rates tend to vary geographically.

Some of the infants seemingly developed a fever as a result of the vaccine, but the researchers did not believe that such fevers would require medical attention.

 

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