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Jul 20, 2016 08:58 PM EDT

Genetically Modified Plasmodium Strains Proved To Be An Effective Vaccine Against Malaria


Malaria is one of the most notorious killers up to now. Developing a vaccine against the disease posed challenges as the parasite that caused the disease out maneuver the host immune response. However, a team of researcher experimentally developed a vaccine by deleting one of the genes of the parasite.

In 2015, approximately 214 million cases of malaria have been recorded along with 438,000 deaths. Most of the affected were children and women. Currently, there are still 3.2 billion people at risk of contracting the disease. By far, malaria is the biggest parasitic threat to the human population despite the increased prevention efforts that even targets mosquito vectors.

An experimental study led by Salaheddine Mécheri in cooperation with Institut Pasteur's Malaria Infection & Immunity Unit's Robert Ménard, developed a genetically attenuated vaccine for the parasite that causes malaria. The scientists induced an effective. Long-lasting response in a mouse model by identifying and deleting one of the genes of the said parasite, Science Daily reported.

An effective vaccine is needed to combat malaria. However, the complex system of 'Plasmodium', the parasite responsible for the disease, makes it difficult to develop an effective vaccine. The parasite has evolved and outmaneuver immune responses from the host. Relative immunity is only acquired only for a span of time that only goes for several years.

The scientists genetically modified strains of the parasite, Plasmodium, by deleting the gene responsible for coding the histamine-releasing factor (HRF). The mutated strains, without HRF expression, proved to be effective in triggering an immune response. Absence of HRF boosts the production of IL-6 cytokine which is known to stimulate the immune response. The mouse subjects conferred protection from Plasmodium parasites, even the highly virulent strains. The protection offered by the genetically modified vaccine is effective against all stages of the Plasmodium's life cycle, according to the results published on 18th of June 2016 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.


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