Researchers from Osaka University have developed a dry powder vaccine, called BK-SE36, from a genetically-modified protein found inside the parasite, which they mixed with aluminium hydroxyl gel.
“The vaccine’s effect is greater than those hitherto reported of any other anti-malaria vaccines,” a statement issued this week said, adding BK-SE36 is expected to reduce markedly the number of deaths caused by the mosquito-borne disease.
The vaccine has already undergone trials on adults in Japan and was also tested in a malaria-endemic area in northern Uganda between 2010 and 2011. Neither study found any safety problems.
A follow-up study of people in Uganda, aged between six and 20, found the vaccine lowered the number of people infected by malaria by 72 per cent.
The findings were published on Tuesday on the online US science journal PLOS One, according the statement.
Regardless of the interpretation, it’s clear that the study raises more questions than it answers. “There’s no question that it’s a very cool paper, but it feels like it’s a start of something,” says Read. For example, we only know that the parasite activates genes that affect the host’s immune system. But when? In the mosquito? In the liver? In the blood? And Reece wants to know if these genes interact with the mosquito’s own immune system, rather than just the mammal’s.
The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), set up by the Japanese government, Japanese pharma companies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said they were looking at a potential five-year commitment of more than $100 million to support research and development into neglected diseases.
The project will see researchers looking through the libraries of compounds held by drug companies to see what possible treatments they contain for tuberculosis, malaria, and other illnesses that threaten hundreds of millions of people in the developing world.
The announcement was made on the sidelines of the five-yearly Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) which will see Japan welcome heads of government from up to 40 African countries.
Malaria No More will ask individuals to donate $1 each, which is the cost of a cheap malaria diagnostic and paediatric treatment course. Support will be matched by supplies from the makers of two products, Alere for the diagnostics and Novartis for the drugs.
Paul Herrling of Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, says: “We are a major player in malaria …Teaming up allows us to reach even more patients.”
The charity conducted focus groups to test reactions towards a new campaign based on a lower-cost, treatment-based push alongside prevention. “When people understood that malaria was one of the top killers of children, they were very responsive,” says Mr Edlund.
Singapore continues to see the numbers of dengue and chikungunya fever cases rise VIDEO – The Global DispatchPosted: May 30, 2013
With at least 60 cases reported in May alone, the number of mosquito borne chikungunya fever cases in Singapore has tripled the number of cases seen in the last three years combined.
With a total of 184 cases of the less severe chikungunya seen thus far in 2013, it is a three-fold increase from the 60 cases reported from 2010 to 2012.
In previous years, the majority of chikungunya cases were imported into the country, where unlike dengue fever, chikungunya is not endemic in Singapore.
However, the report notes 2013 is turning out to be very different. Of the 184 cases, only six were infected abroad. The rest caught the virus brought in by one or more of the six.
The guppy, a freshwater species, feeds on the larvae of mosquitoes that spread diseases like malaria and dengue.
Putting this knowledge to good public use is Mysore-based entrepreneur Somashekar Gowda, who’s taken the initiative to distribute guppies free in the villages of Mysore district to stop the spread of mosquito-related diseases. People from other districts, including Bangalore, are visiting Gowda’s house to collect bowlfuls of guppies. Using fish to control malaria used to be a standard approach in India, but when insecticides like DDT were introduced, this biological weapon was ignored. Now, mosquitoes have become resistant to many of these chemicals and fish are back in the spotlight.
The team uncovered a direct association between a specific gene family in the malaria parasite, known as cir genes, and the control of severity of the disease symptoms in mice. It appears that malaria parasite genes control the immune response of mice to the disease.
“Our research is helping to better understand vaccine targets,” says Dr Adam Reid, author from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. “RNA sequencing allowed us to identify a set of Plasmodium genes that control the immune response and the degree of severity of the disease in mice. We anticipate that we will be able to transfer the findings from our study in mice to human malaria studies, the next phase of our research.”