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Malaria Vaccine Shows Disappointing Results In Final Study

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Research in the field of an effective malaria vaccine has been intense globally. A malaria vaccine that is being developed by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has shown disappointing results in its final study, and scientists suggest that the vaccine is just partially effective.

Researchers suggest that the protection from the GSK vaccine called RTS,S normally subsides over time. The clinical trials of the vaccine also show that it protected about 33 percent of the children vaccinated.

The British pharmaceutical company has already spent millions for the research and development of the malaria vaccine. If the vaccine is successful it will be the first licensed shot for malaria.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier set 2015 as the target for developing a malaria vaccine, which has at least 50 percent efficacy and protection that lasts for more than a year. These goals have not been achieved; however, some scientists believe that the GSK vaccine is not a complete failure.

"Despite the falling efficacy over time, there is still a clear benefit from RTS,S," says Brian Greenwood, a professor of Clinical Tropical Medicine at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who is also a part of the latest study.

Greenwood revealed that more than 1,350 clinical malaria cases were prevented in four years. Around 1,000 children were vaccinated every year. In babies more than 550 cases of clinical malaria were prevented over three years for every 1,000 vaccination cases.

Greenwood highlights that there were 198 million cases of malaria in 2013. While the GSK shot is only partially effective, it can still prevent the disease in millions of people worldwide.

The British pharmaceutical company has already made a submission for RTS,S to the European Medicines Agency. GSK will get a decision in the coming months. If the shot is approved, it will be available as early as October this year.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that is transmitted by an infected female Anopheles mosquito. About 200 million people worldwide are affected by the disease every year mostly in developing nations. In 2013, malaria killed an estimated 584,000 people across the world. However, 90 percent of the cases were reported in Africa and amongst children 5 year old or younger.

An effective malaria vaccine can help save the lives of thousands of people in the future.

Photo: Fabio Costa | Flickr

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