Friday, February 12, 2010

Malaria vaccine to protect pregant women

"Each year, 25 million pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa run the risk of contracting malaria." Women who become infected during their first pregnancy are at the most risk for severe anemia and poor fetal growth. "The malaria parasites accumulate in the placenta, resulting in children being born prematurely and underweight." Maternal malaria causes the death of approximately 200,000 infants and 10,000 women each year

"Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have become the first in the world to synthesize the entire protein that is responsible for life-threatening malaria in pregnant women and their unborn children. The protein known as VAR2CSA enables malaria parasites to accumulate in the placenta and can therefore potentially be used as the main component in a vaccine to trigger antibodies that protect pregnant women against malaria. The research team is now planning to test the efficacy of the protein-based vaccine on humans."

"The hope is that within 10 years all African girls could be vaccinated against maternal malaria, thereby preventing more than 200,000 deaths a year." The vaccine "elicits antibodies that stop the [malaria] parasite from binding to the placenta." Laboratory testing is underway, and the vaccine can already be tested in animals.

"These antibodies seem to be effective at preventing the parasite from accumulating in the placental tissue. The next step is to investigate whether we can elicit the same antibodies and so protect against the disease by vaccinating humans. Then the vaccine will be a reality."


University of Copenhagen (2010, February 5). Vaccine to protect pregnant women from contracting malaria?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 12, 2010, from­ /releases/2010/02/100204144433.htm

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