Scientists in Australia say they’ve made a breakthrough in the fight against malaria and are one step closer to developing a vaccine.
CBC reports researchers at Melbourne’s Burnet Institute say a key piece of the puzzle was discovered when they analyzed the antibodies of adults and children in Kenya who had become immune to the parasite. James Beeson, senior author of the study, says “The puzzle has been, what is the key point of attack of the immune system against malaria? We’ve established that one particular protein of malaria is the key point of attack of the immune system.”
The study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation says the team kept track of children between one and ten years of age, as well as adults. They discovered that the more times they got malaria, the more antibodies they developed. The researchers discovered that some Kenyans had even developed an immunity to the protein. The scientists will now focus on developing a vaccine that can induce the same immune response to the protein.
The American National Institutes of Health estimates globally, there are 300-500 million cases of malaria each year, and more than 1 million people die annually. In some parts of the world, mosquitoes that carry the disease have developed resistance to insecticides and some of the parasites have developed a resistance to some antibiotics. That means it is becoming more and more difficult to control Malaria.
Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting as well as muscle pain and jaundice and usually begin 10 to 15 days after being bitten by the Anopheles Mosquito. It can also lead to convulsions, coma and death.