New malaria vaccine uses disabled cold virus

Researchers have created a new malaria vaccine that consists of a combination of a disabled cold virus with a gene that stimulates the immune system.

Scientists from Michigan State University, led by Andrea Amalfitano of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, also discovered another immune-stimulating agent that has been successful in improving immune responses to diseases such as HIV, though it is not as effective against malaria as originally hoped, according to

Both findings, reported in the journal PLoS ONE, are expected to help researchers develop more effective vaccine platforms and hopefully lead to a series of human clinical trials.

"Researchers across the globe are working on ways to prevent people from becoming infected with malaria," Amalfitano said, reports. "Some vaccines are showing promise, but they are not as effective as they need to be for any mass distribution."

Amalfitano and his team are now working on a vaccine platform for the U.S. Army that targets a gene on the malaria parasite, the Circumsporozoite Protein, or CSP.

Past research has shown that those infected by malaria multiple times will begin to produce an immune response to the protein, suggesting that CSP could be protective.

"What we are looking to do is improve the ability of the vaccine to induce immune responses to that protein," Amalfitano said, reports. "We are adding genes to the vaccine to try and stimulate the immune system.

"The results were surprising, but we were able to hit our goal eventually. This research will help us as we create a viable vaccine."