Malaria vaccine could be available by 2011: report

June 1st, 2009 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 1 (IANS) Advanced trials of a new mosquito medicine that began in Africa last week could lead to the world’s first malaria vaccine becoming available as soon as 2011, a newspaper reported Monday.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) began Phase-III trials of its Mosquirix medicine Wednesday as scientists began injecting 1,200 infants and children in the town of Bagamoyo in Tanzania.

Eventually, up to 16,000 patients will be immunised in seven African countries, including Mozambique, Kenya and Malawi.

The Times said Mosquirix, which has been tested for 17 years for its safety and effectiveness, is the first potential malaria vaccine to reach the Phase-III trial stage.

About 80 percent of vaccines that enter Phase III typically end up on the market, it said.

There are treatments available for malaria once the disease has been contracted, but no vaccines. Malaria tablets can be taken for a maximum of a few months before they become toxic for the body.

The paper said Mosquirix is designed for people living in areas where malaria is endemic and will not be available to tourists as an alternative to malaria tablets.

Although Malaria is preventable and curable, there were 247 million cases of malaria in 2006, causing nearly one million deaths, mostly among African children.

The World Health Organisation says a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.

Earlier, more limited trials of Mosquirix in Tanzania have shown that the vaccine reduced infection with malaria over a six-month period by up to 65 percent in babies aged under 12 months, who are the most vulnerable to the disease.

Different versions of the same medicine have also proved successful in children aged between five and seventeen months in Kenya and Tanzania.

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