Ahead of World Malaria Day tomorrow comes an exciting development. The worlds first malaria vaccine has been given the go ahead for large-scale trials in three African countries: Kenya, Ghana and Malawi. These were selected as the initial countries to test the vaccine because they still have high numbers of malaria cases despite prevention programmes already being in place.
Known as RTS,S or Mosquirix, the vaccine was developed by GlaxoSmithKline. It has been shown to protect children from the most deadly form of malaria in Africa, caused by the Plasmodium alciparum parasite. It is a recombinant protein-based vaccine that essentially works by training the immune system to attack this parasite.
The pilot programme will begin in 2018 with hundreds of thousands of children being administered the vaccine. In order for the vaccination to be successful it requires a four-dose schedule, once a month for three months and then a fourth dose 18 months later. The feasibility of this will be put to the test during the trial. A greater understanding is hoped to be gained as to whether the vaccination is able to replicate its protective effect in real-life.
RTS,S fact sheet available here: http://tinyurl.com/kldob33
PCR remains an essential technique in all stages of vaccine development, from quality monitoring to safety and efficacy checks.