Breakthrough announced in search for malaria vaccine

European researchers, in what is being touted as a major breakthrough for malaria treatment, have shown that infected mice that are administered antibiotics develop immunity against becoming infected again.

The study, conducted through the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kenya, showed that the antibiotics clindamycin and azithromycin damaged malaria parasites when they entered the liver, reports. The damaged malaria parasites were then prevented from becoming the disease-causing form of malaria that enters into the bloodstream.

When the parasite is stopped in the liver, Dr. Steffen Borrman, of the Heidelberg University School of Medicine and the head of research for the study, told that stopping the parasite in the liver allows the immune system time to develop defenses.

The study showed that, 40 days after this immunization and without antibiotics, the body's immune response was still powerful enough to protect against new infections.

There is currently no effective vaccine against malaria, but this new, needle-free discovery could allow for a "naturally occurring transmission of the 'vaccine dose' by mosquito bites,” Bormann told

This new method also cuts out the time and expense needed to produce and deliver weakened parasites that would be used in a traditional vaccine. Concerns have been raised, however, that a natural delivery model utilizing mosquito bites would be unpredictable as the number of mosquito bites differs on an individual basis.