SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

Scientists research algae-based malaria vaccine

Scientists at UC San Diego recently found that an algae-based vaccine could be made to block the transmission of malaria.

The scientists found that while being able to block malaria with algae is not possible now, it has potential to block other viral and bacterial diseases, and may become an effective way to battle malaria in the future. Fusing a protein that is known for starting an antibody response against an organism like malaria with another protein that creates cholera and binding them to the body creates a fused protein able to create a Immunoglobulin A, which is able to fight malaria. This protein can be put into algae and once consumed by the subject, will leech onto the intestinal epithelial cells and begin making antibodies.

"Many bacterial and viral infections are caused by eating tainted food or water," Stephen Mayfield, a professor of biology at UC San Diego, said. "So what this study shows is that you can get a really good immune response from a recombinant protein in algae that you feed to a mammal. In this case, it happens to be a mouse, but presumably it would also work in a human. That's really encouraging for the potential for algae-based vaccines in the future."

The same system has the potential to be used on other bacterial infections like Salmonella and E. coli. An algae-based vaccine delivery system would also greatly reduce vaccine distribution costs.