Malaria is serious disease spread through mosquito bites that causes around 430,000 deaths each year. There were over 210 million reported cases in 2015 alone, and it is estimated that the disease claims the life of a child every two minutes. Around 2,000 UK residents are affected each year following periods abroad in affected areas.
Parasitic resistance to treatment
The most popular combination drug used in the treatment of malaria is artemether-lumefantrine. A report highlighted by the BBC indicates that the parasite is becoming resistant to the drug, with four patients failing to respond to the treatment during the winter of 2015/2016.
New malaria drug shows astonishing results
Now, a new research study has presented a potential solution to the disease. Scientists have created a vaccine containing living malaria parasites which, when injected into the bloodstream, have been proven to give long-term protection against the disease with no known side effects. The effectiveness of the treatment seems to show a 100 per cent success rate.
Clinical trials require rigorous testing that must abide by strict regulations. They are usually conducted by medical staff in conjunction with specially trained clinical trial assistants provided by organisations such as http://www.gandlscientific.com/clinical-trial-assistants/. In this case, the drug was tested on 67 adults, none of whom had a history of malaria. Participants were injected at varying intervals, with the most effective treatment proving to be a high dose of the vaccine on three occasions with a gap of four weeks between each dose. The participants on this regime were found to have complete resistance to the disease, even ten weeks after the treatment had finished.
This is the first treatment using living malaria parasites as a vaccine. The vaccine causes the body to develop an antibody response to the parasites. Chloroquine, a common medication used to treat malaria, was added to the vaccine to prevent the participants from going on to develop the disease. The immune system then recognises malarial parasites when they are reintroduced into the bloodstream and destroys them before they can cause any damage.
Further trials will need to be conducted into the vaccine to establish how long immunity remains within the body, but clinicians hope that it will prove to be a credible long-term solution to the disease.