Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Halting Malaria Transmission

Brought to my attention by @sarahsearle

"Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute have for the first time produced a malarial protein" that can "generate a significant immune response" and be used to create "a potential transmission-blocking vaccine" (Parsons). Antibodies produced in response to the protein, inhibit the "sexual development of the malaria-causing parasite, Plasmodium, as it grows within the mosquito".

"According to the study, a single-dose vaccine provided a 93 percent transmission-blocking immune response, reaching greater than 98 percent after a booster was given several months later" (Parsons).

Humans are on the verge of successfully creating a vaccine that may inhibit the spread of malaria. In the late 1980s, scientists understood the possibility of transmission-blocking immunity. They discovered that individuals can "develop immunity that suppresses the infectivity of the sexual stages of the parasite." This "immunity is antibody mediated and is directed against the parasites in the mosquito midgut shortly after ingestion of blood by a mosquito." In 1987, scientists declared that "This immunity could be expected to have significant effects on the natural transmission of P. vivax malaria" (Mendis).

"Development of a successful transmission-blocking vaccine is an essential step in efforts to control the global spread of malaria" (Kumar). This study indicates that "it is possible to gradually reduce malaria transmission to a point of almost eradication" (Parsons).

Kumar, Nirbhay.

Mendis, K N. Y D Munesinghe, Y N de Silva, I Keragalla, and R Carter. Malaria transmission-blocking immunity induced by natural infections of Plasmodium vivax in humans. 1987 February.

Parsons, Tim. Vaccine Blocks Malaria Transmission in Lab Experiments. 22 July 2009.

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