Vaccine May Lead To More Dangerous Malaria – Staying Healthy News Story – KERO BakersfieldPosted: August 2, 2012
The paper was published this week in the journal PLOS. Researchers working with the leading candidate vaccine immediately questioned it, saying they’ve seen no sign of dangerous changes as a result of their work.
The study was performed on mice. Researchers monitored the malaria parasite through several generations, comparing parasites in mice who had been inoculated against malaria with mice those who did not receive vaccinations. In the former group, new malaria infections caused more severe illness, as measured by red blood cell count.
Another scientist, a top malaria researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said a look at malaria’s natural evolution is reassuring. Dr. John Barnwell says people in malaria-ridden countries tend to be exposed and develop immunity at a young age. But because there are so many strains, the immunity is never perfect — just as immunity from a “leaky” vaccine isn’t perfect. And yet, says Barnwell, malaria has not evolved to be steadily more virulent.
“This [study] is an artificial way of doing it, but it mimics the way it evolves in the real world,” says Barnwell.