NIH-funded malaria vaccine shows safety, efficacy in early trial
- A malaria vaccine in a small, early-stage clinical studies supported by the National Institutes of Health has shown promising results in protecting adults from the mosquito-borne disease, according to the medical research agency.
- Results showed the PfSPZ vaccine, developed and produced by Maryland-based Sanaria, conferred protection against malaria for more than one year in 55% of participants.
- The 101-patient study also found the intravenous vaccine formulation to have higher efficacy than intramuscular injection.
Globally, malaria still has a devastating effect on patients in endemic regions, particularly in Africa, Southeast Asia, and China. While malaria is not endemic in the U.S., it is a major risk for American travelers and military personnel.
“A malaria vaccine that provides long-term protection is urgently needed to reduce mortality and eliminate transmission. This study is an encouraging step forward in our goal to control and ultimately eradicate malaria,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH.
The vaccine, which was developed to protect against the P.falciparum malaria strain, was tested in 101 adults between the ages of 18 and 45 who had never had malaria. Subjects received either active vaccine (n=59) or placebo (n=32). Subjects were then exposed to malaria-infected mosquitoes at three weeks, and then again at 21 weeks. They were reassessed at the one-year mark to determine long-term efficacy.
“It is now clear that administering the PfSPZ Vaccine intravenously confers long-term, sterile protection in a small number of participants, which has not been achieved with other current vaccine approaches,” said Robert Seder, the principal investigator on the trial.
NIH and Sanaria plan to test higher doses in larger trials next.