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article imageGates' malaria vaccine gives disappointing results

By Tim Sandle     Nov 10, 2012 in Science
The first results from the malaria vaccine, which is sponsored by the Gates Foundation, have produced disappointing results. The data indicates that only a third of infants given the injection at 9 to 12 weeks of age were protected from the disease.
One of the key aims of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is to develop a vaccine against malaria. As the Foundation reports "Malaria causes nearly 1 million deaths per year, and 85 percent of those who die are children under 5 years of age."
In 1999, the Foundation helped to found the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI). The MVI is a vaccine development program established by the global health non-profit organization PATH. MVI's remit is to accelerate the development of safe, effective, and affordable malaria vaccines and to ensure their availability and accessibility.
In 2001, MVI and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) entered into a public-private partnership to advance the development of GSK’s RTS,S malaria vaccine candidate for pediatric use in sub-Saharan Africa.
In November 2012, the results from a recent clinical trial testing the RTS,S malaria vaccine were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The results, whilst representing a major step-forward compared with previous trials, were acknowledge by the scientists to be disappointing. This was because the success rate was only 1 in 3.
Commenting on the findings, Bill Gates said: "The efficacy came back lower than we had hoped, but developing a vaccine against a parasite is a very hard thing to do."
Nonetheless, as the New York Times reports, even a 30 percent reduction in the roughly 216 million cases of malaria would have a significant impact. The scientists aim to carry out a further clinical trial with the final set of results due in 2014.
In another initiative, scientists are attempting to genetically engineer mosquitoes so that they breed off-spring who cannot transmit malaria. A further line of inquiry is looking at the use of algae to make an anti-malarial drug.
More about Gates Foundation, Malaria, Vaccine
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