"Although vaccines are under development that use whole malaria parasites weakened by irradiation to protect against infection, their safety and effectiveness rely on a precise irradiation dose and trial results have been variable," Professor Cowman said. "We believe that our genetically attenuated parasite approach provides a safe and reproducible way of developing a whole organism malaria vaccine."
Professor Cowman said it was unlikely the weakened parasites used in the vaccine would regain their potency as the genes had been deleted from the genome and could not be recreated by the parasite. "In addition, the 'one-two punch' approach of deleting two essential genes make it extremely unlikely that the attenuated parasite vaccine could restore its capacity to multiply and lead to disease," he said.
The human trials of the vaccine will take place at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland, US. The genetically attenuated parasites to be used in the trial are being manufactured at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, which has the only facility worldwide capable of producing genetically-altered malaria parasites that comply with the good manufacturing practice guidelines required for human clinical trials.
|Contact: Ms Penny Fannin|
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute