Magazine article Science News

Synthetic Protein May Yield Malaria Vaccine

Magazine article Science News

Synthetic Protein May Yield Malaria Vaccine

Article excerpt

A lab-made version of a protein found on the parasite that causes most serious cases of malaria elicits a potent immune response when given to people, suggesting it could become the basis of a vaccine against the disease.

No malaria vaccine has yet proved practical in people, and this new approach remains a long shot. Still, the synthetic-protein fragment offers hope because it spurs production of both antibodies and immune cells, scientists report in the July EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY. The fragment is patterned after a portion of a malaria protein called circumsporozoite.

Malaria strikes roughly 500 million people worldwide every year and kills 3.5 million of them.

Over a 6-month period, the researchers gave 16 volunteers who had never lived in a malarial zone three injections each of the new vaccine.

In every participant, the vaccine engendered antibodies against circumsporozoite and whipped up an army of immune system warriors called CD4 and CD8 T cells, says study coauthor Giampietro Corradin, a biochemist at the University of Lausanne in Epalinges, Switzerland. His laboratory developed the vaccine. Corradin and his colleagues also tested eight of the volunteers for interferon gamma, a protein made by T cells that orchestrates immune responses. In six of them, the vaccine boosted concentrations of interferon gamma, boding well for the vaccine.

Scientists have induced CD8 T cell responses against malaria, but only by using DNA- or virus-based vaccines. …

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