Scientists discover novel way to develop malaria vaccines

Scientists found a new way to produce proteins from the malaria parasite to be used for vaccines, which could result in cheaper vaccines, according to a study recently published in PLoS ONE.

Scientists with the University of Edinburgh collaborated with Cilia AG, a German company, to study the effectiveness of a vaccine developed from the novel protein production process. The researchers grew the proteins in a tiny, single-celled aquatic creature with a similar makeup to the malaria parasite. The scientists were able to make the organism and the protein multiply quickly in the lab.

Developing malaria vaccines is a challenging process because vaccines must incorporate key proteins from malaria-causing parasites. The proteins trigger the production of antibodies by the immune system. Until now, the complex, intricate structure of the proteins had been hard to produce.

The research team developed a vaccine using human malaria parasite proteins, known as MSP-1-BBM, and tested it on mice. The team found the MSP-1-BBM vaccine was able to produce antibodies in the bloodstream that responded to the human malaria parasite.

The researchers look to develop the vaccine for further testing and produce a therapy that will be effective in humans.

"There is a desperate need for an effective vaccine, which can be made easily in large quantities, to protect against this devastating disease," David Cavanagh, the leader of the study, said. "Our findings meet this challenge and, with more work, could lead to a vaccine to help those most at risk."

The study was funded by the European Union.