- The clinical trial was conducted with 6,000 children aged 5-17 months in Mali and Burkina Faso.
- Globally, malaria causes about 400,000 deaths every year, mainly affecting young children.
- Company targets approval after WHO expert panel meeting in October.
UK-based pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has reportedly developed a jab that has the potential to cut the chances of severe illnesses and death by malaria by more than 70%. This “game-changing” vaccine, developed by the company’s team of British scientists, could be a lifesaver for millions of young children in developing nations.
It is worth noting that currently there is no approved jab for malaria despite numerous vaccines being under development. The disease kills more than 400,000 people annually across the globe.
According to reports, researchers observed that results from a trial involving 6,000 children between 5-17 months of age in Mali and Burkina Faso exceeded their expectations. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) team, which conducted the latest trial, believes that the World Health Organization (WHO) would recommend the vaccine after an expert panel meeting in October.
The price of the jab remains undisclosed, however, GSK stated that it developed the vaccine in order to contribute to global health instead of making large profits.
The GSK vaccine seemingly consists of a protein that is also present on the malarial parasite, which is mixed with a hepatitis B protein. Together, these proteins form non-infectious particles appear like the virus to the immune system and train it to repel the real malaria parasite.
The vaccine also seemingly contains an adjuvant, which is a component typically used in some vaccines to strengthen the immune response.
Notably, upon reaching the liver, the parasite multiplies and re-enters the bloodstream that allows it to easily infect red blood cells, which often leads to severe diseases. The vaccine dubbed RTS,S/AS01E works by stopping the parasite from infecting liver cells.
The makers hope that the novel combination approach could help prevent malaria in large parts of Africa, which annually reports high number of cases as the disease spreads there seasonally.
For the uninitiated, currently, children in Africa are prescribed antimalarial medicines about four times a year during certain seasons to protect against the disease. Children, unlike adults, are more prone to malaria as they lack the immunity required to prevent themselves from the illness.