Malaria vaccine candidate shows efficacy in genomic study
The genomic study used highly sensitive sequencing technology to evaluate more samples from patients. They found that genetic variation within the protein that RTS,S targets can affect the ability of RTS,S to protect young children from malaria. Health professionals have concerns about the partial protection of the vaccine. It appears to protect people only from allele malaria bacteria.
"This is an example of the benefits of applying genomics to a real world problem of global health importance," Dyann Wirth, chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said.
RTS,S is designed to trigger an immune response, but at this point it only protects against certain alleles of proteins. The researchers intend to conduct further studies with broader partners to better understand how the vaccine works.
"This is the first study that was big enough and used a methodology that was sufficiently sensitive to detect this phenomenon,” Dan Neafsey, associate director of the Genomic Center for Infectious Diseases at the Broad and co-first author of the NEJM paper, said. “Now that we know that it exists, it contributes to our understanding of how RTS,S confers protection and informs future vaccine development efforts.”