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Is malaria vaccination possible?
The tropical disease malaria still kills more than 600,000 people worldwide every year. Children under the age of five are particularly affected, with one child dying from the infectious disease every minute in Africa alone. So far, there is no way to vaccinate against malaria, instead, only prevention or emergency therapy with malaria medication can take place. Now the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has apparently developed a vaccine.
Tropical disease malaria kills more than 600,000 people every year According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 600,000 people die from the infectious disease malaria. About half of the victims are children under the age of five, and 90% of those affected live on the African continent. The infectious disease, which is mainly transmitted by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito, usually begins quite harmlessly and is reminiscent of a cold in symptoms. In the further course, however, there are high, recurrent episodes of fever with chills, diarrhea and cramps, which can quickly lead to coma and death, especially in children and the elderly. So far there is no way to vaccinate against dangerous malaria, but instead malaria medication can be used to prevent and treat it if necessary. In Africa, in particular, there is the big problem that the pathogens are resistant to malaria drugs in many cases.
New vaccine "RTS, S" ready for use in 2015? Now there is new hope in the fight against malaria, because the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has apparently developed a vaccine called "RTS, S". According to the company, this is specifically intended for African children, but there are no plans in Europe to launch the product on the market. The vaccine "RTS, S" is the most advanced compared to other developments, which is why the group now wants to push forward the use of the new agent. According to this, the assessment of the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency should take place next year, so that if the outcome is positive, the product can be used in Africa from 2015.
Protection up to 18 months after vaccination The company presented the current test results of the third phase of its study at an international malaria conference in Durban, South Africa, for which more than 15,000 children had been examined. The study showed that "the most advanced malaria vaccine, RTS, S, is able to protect children and young children against malaria for up to 18 months after vaccination," the company said. The test series had shown that the new vaccine had a positive effect in almost half of the cases (46%) in babies between five and 17 months after the first use. Success has also been shown in infants between six and twelve weeks - the effectiveness of "RTS, S" after the first vaccination was 27 percent.
"Encouraging" results give hope for medical progress According to investigator Lucas Otieno, these results are "encouraging", because in comparison the second phase of the study had given far less reason to hope. GlaxoSmithKline announced in November in the England Journal of Medicine that malaria protection for vaccinated children had steadily decreased over time and had ceased to exist after four years. However, according to Lucas Otieno, there were fewer participants in the earlier investigation phase, and the tests were also carried out in a region of Kenya where different forms of malaria were found. In order to avoid further distortion of the test results, the researchers had currently examined children in eleven locations across seven countries.
Great potential for public health According to the Chairman of the Clinical Trials Partnership Committee (CTPC), Halidou Tinto, given the current results, it appears that "the RTS, S vaccine has the potential to have a significant impact on public health:" Preventing a significant number of malaria cases in a community would mean fewer hospital beds with sick children. This would mean that families would have to spend less time and money on caring for these children and more time for work or other activities. And of course the children themselves would have all the benefits of better health, ”says Halidou Tinto. (No)
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