Researchers from Yale have created a vaccine that protects against malaria in mice, with the same in humans the next step, according to Life Sciences. The study was published by Nature Communications.
Malaria is the second leading cause of infectious disease worldwide and took more than 500,000 lives since 2013. There is currently no completely effective vaccine. In a previous study, senior author Richard Bucala, M.D. researched a unique protein produced by malaria parasites: Plasmodium. It suppresses memory T cells, the infection-fighting cells that respond to threats and protect the body against reinfection.
The research team used two mouse models of malaria to test the effectiveness of a vaccine using PMIF in order to combat malaria. One model actually had early-stage liver infection from parasites carried by mosquitos and the other had a severe late-stage blood infection. In both models, the vaccine protected against reinfection. By the end of the research, the researchers transferred memory T cells from the immunized mice to healthy mice that were never exposed to malaria. Those mice were also protected.
The research proved that PMIF is critical to the completion of the parasite life cycle because it ensures transmission to new hosts, said the scientists, noting that it also demonstrates the effectiveness of the anti-PMIF vaccine.
“If you vaccinate with this specific protein used by the malaria parasite to evade an immune response, you can elicit protection against re-infection,” said Bucala. “To our knowledge, this has never been shown using a single antigen in fulminant blood-stage infection.”