Sanaria reports poor results for malaria vaccine

In the first clinical trial of a new malaria vaccine by Sanaria’s, only a small number of the 80 volunteers were protected from the virus, illustrating the difficulties scientists face in eliminating a disease that kills 800,000 people annually.

The leader of the Sanaria team, Dr. Stephen Hoffman, admitted to Reuters that the number of successful protections was so bad that he was disinclined to speak them aloud.

"It was a low number," Hoffman told Reuters. When pressed, he added, "Only a handful," admitting, finally, "We had five."

Hoffman spoke about what he and his team learned from the trials at a conference of malaria makers and their funders held in Washington, D.C. The Maryland-based company, Sanaria, has not given up, but it appears to be an uphill battle, Reuters reports.

Tests in animals have suggested that giving the drug intravenously might increase its effectiveness. Hoffman, the founder and chief executive of the privately held Sanaria, intends to look at how that information might be used in humans.

Sanaria, however, has run out of money from the non-profit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and can only continue on funds received from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and other government agencies.

"Right now I do need to get a lot more funds," Hoffman told Reuters.

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