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UM School of Medicine scientists find new malaria vaccine is safe and promotes immune response in children
Date:2/6/2010

A new vaccine to prevent the deadly malaria infection has shown promise to protect the most vulnerable patients young children against the disease, according to an international team of researchers led by the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) and the Malaria Research and Training Center at the University of Bamako in Mali, West Africa. In a new study of the vaccine in young children in Mali, researchers found it stimulated strong and long-lasting immune responses. In fact, the antibody levels the vaccine produced in the children were as high or even higher than the antibody levels found in adults who have naturally developed protective immune responses to the parasite over lifelong exposure to malaria.

"These findings imply that we may have achieved our goal of using a vaccine to reproduce the natural protective immunity that normally takes years of intense exposure to malaria to develop," says Christopher V. Plowe, M.D., M.P.H., professor and chief of the Malaria Section of the CVD. Dr. Plowe, a lead author of the study to be published online in the Feb. 4 issue of PLoS ONE, the journal of the Public Library of Science, also is an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist.

In areas of the world such as Africa, where malaria is particularly rampant, the young are most vulnerable to the disease since they have not built up the same natural immunity as adults. A child dies of malaria every 30 seconds, according to the World Health Organization. There are about 300 million malaria cases worldwide each year, resulting in more than one million deaths, most of them African children.

Malaria is caused by a parasite spread to humans through mosquito bites. There is no approved vaccine to protect against the condition, though using bed nets or killing mosquitoes with insecticides can prevent infection. The parasite is treatab
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Contact: Karen Buckelew
kbuckelew@som.umaryland.edu
410-706-7590
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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