PATH begins Phase III malaria vaccine clinical trial

GlaxoSmithKline and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative recently began Phase III clinical trials on a developmental malaria vaccine.

The treatment, known as RTS, S, proved effective in Phase II testing, lowering the incidence of malaria by 53 percent. It has shown the potential to reduce episodes further if administered to infants and young children, according to HealthExpress.co.uk.

The research will be conducted in collaboration with the University College of Medicine - Malawi, and will focus on studying the drug’s performance when administered to children at different ages from birth to nine months. The results of the study will help determine potential strategies for national treatment programs, Zenopa.com reports.

"Young children are particularly susceptible to infection with malaria and it is important that vaccines are introduced into the immunization program as early as possible," Dr. Desiree Witte, from the University’s Institute of Infection and Global Health, said, according to HealthExpress.co.uk.

“There is no licensed vaccine available against malaria and currently the candidate vaccine developed by GSK and MVI, is the most clinically advanced malaria vaccine in the world.” Dr. Witte told HealthExpress.co.uk.

The vaccine will be administered alongside a standard set of vaccines used for young children in national programs. Previous studies suggest that the new vaccine could potentially be integrated with other vaccines in the World Health Organization’s Expanded Program for Immunization schedule.

"Over the past few years there have been encouraging results from studies of vaccines aimed at tackling some of the major diseases common to children living in Africa, including diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria,” Professor Nigel Cunliffe, also from the University’s Institute of Infection and Global Health, said. “It is hoped that in the near future vaccines against these diseases will become a standard part of the immunization schedule across the region. It will therefore become increasingly important for us to understand how the vaccines will work when administered alongside each other."