Malaria is a global medical nightmare. The parasitic infection, spread by mosquitoes, threatens half the world’s population and killed 627,000 people in 2012 alone. As it’s a protozoa, not a virus, a vaccine has been little more than a dream. Until now, that is.
The experimental vaccine, developed by the University of Tübingen and biotech firm Sanaria, uses the same principles; the subjects were injected with malaria parasites that had been effectively neutered. The idea is that instead of sneaking into the liver in the manner of most malaria parasites, these sound the alarm right away, kicking the immune system into overdrive. To keep people from actually getting sick, chloroquine, a malaria treatment, is added to the mix.
Not only has it worked, it’s worked perfectly. The study found 100% resistance to malaria and that it was maintained even after ten weeks. That said, this is just a small trial of 67 people. The next step is a broader trial to see if this study is a fluke or if this vaccine holds its effectiveness among a broader group of people. That’s going to take several years, and the good news is that it has competition. Another vaccine is going to trial in 2018, so in our lifetimes, one of the worst diseases in human history might finally be shut down for good.
(via New Atlas