Malaria vaccine enters third phase of testing

The third phase of testing for the world's most clinically advanced malaria vaccine candidate began last year and researchers at the Kenya Medical Research Institutes and Centers of Disease Control believe it could lead to the nation's first malaria vaccine by 2015.

The vaccine works by targeting two groups of children - one group from the age of six to 12 weeks and the other from five to 17 months - in different transmission settings across a wide geographic region.

“If the vaccine is proved to be effective in the prevention of malaria, it will be introduced as part of the routine child vaccination series in Kenya by 2015,” said Dr Simon Kariuki, the principal researcher at the Kemri/CDC, told AllAfrica.com.

The vaccine, known as Mall55 Study, began trials in 2009 with mandatory preliminary duties preceding the actual study.

Eight hundred children have now been enrolled int he Mall 55 Malaria Vaccine Study for the five to 17 month age group, and the second phase of enrollment for the six to 12 week age group has already begun. The testing will continue for approximately one year and take place at 11 sites.

“There is hope to have a first indication of how well the vaccine works in the older age group of children in approximately a year and a half," Kariuki said.

Malaria kills more than 800,000 people annually in Africa, with the majority of those killed under the age of five.

By conducting the trials in seven different countries across sub-Saharan Africa, researchers will be able to evaluate the vaccine candidate’s efficacy in a variety of settings, with diverse patterns of malaria transmission,” Kariuki said.