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Controversy: Malaria Vaccine - Future Possibility Or Just A Dream?

While scientists world over have hailed the results of a trial of a malaria vaccine by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), that has halved the incidence of severe disease in children, Pierre Druilhi, a French // entist, warned that malaria vaccination is still a far off dream failing better international coordination.

Shunning claims of a medical breakthrough, Pierre Druilhi, director of the Biomedical Parasitological Unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris said that it is too early to say we have a vaccine against malaria. He presented his speech at the fourth annual pan-African malaria conference, organized by the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria, (MIM), held in the Cameroonian capital Yaounde.

GSK presented trials of the RTS S/AS02A vaccine carried out on 1,442 children between one and four years of age in Mozambique in 2003. A six-month follow up study and another 12 months later Early trials of the vaccine last year showed it was effective over six months. The new study of the children who have been followed up for 18 months, published online in the journal Lancet, revealed that the protection was maintained, with a 30 % reduced risk of clinical malaria.

GSK worked with CISM, the Hospital Clinic of the University of Barcelona, the Ministry of Health in Mozambique and the Malaria Vaccine Initiative to develop the vaccine.

Pedro Alonso, scientific director of the Manhica Health Research Centre (CISM), said that 'The unprecedented results in this study is further evidence that an effective vaccine to help control the malaria pandemic, which kills more than one million people in developing countries, is very possible'.

While researchers have accepted that, at least for the foreseeable future, there is no prospect of a vaccine, which could wipe out malaria or even provide lifelong immunity, a vaccine that would turn the disease into a mostly mild infection would play an important role in the eff ort to control malaria.

The vaccine could be on the market in 2011 if additional trials prove its effectiveness.

Medindia on Malaria:

Malaria is usually caused by a mosquito bite and the parasite microbe is passed from the mosquito to the blood through a sharp hypoderme needle like sting. It is transmitted by transfusion of infected blood.

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