First Malaria Vaccine Surfaces in Africa


The world’s first Malaria immunization made by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) could be affirmed by global controllers for utilization in Africa from October after the final trial information is demonstrated, offering partial insurance for up to four years.

The shot called RTSS would be the first licensed human vaccine against a parasitic disease and is expected to help in the prevention of millions of Malaria cases. The disease currently takes lives of over 600,000 people annually in the region.

The researchers at GSK in Britain had been working on RTSS for the last 30 years and experts had long hoped that scientists would be able to develop such effective malaria vaccines.

Researchers had hoped that the shot would provide a final answer to wiping out malaria, but the expectations were diminished when the trial data released in 2011 and 2012 showed that it only reduced episodes of Malaria in babies aged 6-12 weeks by 27 percent, and by around 46 percent in children aged 5-7 months.

In the final stage of the development of the vaccine, a follow-up data published in the Lancet journal on Friday showed that the children were protected from Malaria even after four years , though at a declining rate. This declining rate of protection could be made stronger with a booster shot.

Brian Greenwood, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who worked on the study, said that an average 1,363 cases of clinical malaria were prevented over four years for every 1,000 children vaccinated, or 1,774 cases with a booster shot — the children would normally be expected to have had several cases of infection over that period.

GSK submitted an application in July 2014 for regulatory approval by the European Medicines Agency for RTSS and is expecting a decision within a few months. If it gets a license, the World Health Organization could recommend it for use “as early as October this year”, Greenwood said.

Experts say RTSS will be only one among several weapons against malaria alongside insecticide-treated bed nets, rapid diagnostic tests and anti-malarial drugs.

RTSS was co-developed by GSK and the non-profit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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