Scientists synthesise potential malaria vaccine

April 8th, 2008 - 12:00 pm ICT by admin  

New York, April 8 (IANS) Colombian scientists have chemically synthesised an early-stage malaria vaccine in the laboratory, opening the way to a real breakthrough vaccine for the scourge. Manuel E. Patarroyo and Manuel A. Patarroyo, director and researcher of the Colombian Institute of Immunology Foundation, chemically synthesised protein fragments of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum involved in red blood cell invasion.

They adapted their structures and tested them in monkeys until an immune response was initiated, reported.

The research group has been working on the technique to chemically synthesise vaccines for over 30 years.

Manuel E. Patarroyo produced a first generation malaria vaccine in 1986, known as SPf66, which provided 35 percent protection in people older than one year in field trials.

He hopes this second generation drug can be tested on humans in 2009.

Producing vaccines in the laboratory by this method - rather than the traditional method of using whole micro-organisms - has several advantages, he said.

The vaccines will be effective against multiple micro-organisms and at different stages of the infection process. Additionally, batches of vaccine will always be exactly the same, and will not induce side effects.

They are also stable at room temperature and cheap to produce, making them attractive for developing countries.

The researchers say their “peptidoteque” - library of protein fragments that induce an immune response - is the key to fighting diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis, leishmaniasis, and cervical cancer.

“(The study) is a summary of at least 10 years of continuous and exhaustive analysis of how a parasite - in this case Plasmodium falciparum - tries to avoid the immune attacks of its host and how manipulation of the immune response can overcome such avoidance strategies,” said Johan Hoebeke of the Catholic University of Valparaiso, Chile.

“(It) will lead to a better understanding of the vaccination process and thus open the way for a real breakthrough vaccine.”

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