Home / Science / Health /  New mRNA vaccines can reduce risks of malaria infection: Study

Two new mRNA vaccines have been developed that can apparently reduce both malaria infection and transmission. The researchers also said, the vaccines induced a powerful immune response regardless of whether they were given individually or in combination. 

"Malaria elimination will not happen overnight but such vaccines could potentially banish malaria from many parts of the world," said Nirbhay Kumar, a professor at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. The study was published on Thursday in the journal npj Vaccines.

"The mRNA vaccine technology can really be a game changer. We saw how successful this technology was in terms of fighting COVID and for this study we adapted it and used it to develop tools to combat malaria," Kumar said in a statement. 

The study pointed out that the vaccine will introduce a piece of messenger RNA -- RNA that is necessary for protein production -- which corresponds to a viral protein.

Anopheles mosquitoes, P. falciparum together with P. vivax, are responsible for more than 90% of all malaria cases globally, and 95%of all malaria deaths.  Most deaths are seen in sub-Saharan Africa, but malaria continues to scare half the world's population. 

How the study was conducted? 

The researchers said, two mRNA vaccines work in completely different ways. 

 They immunised one group of mice with a mRNA vaccine targeting a protein that helps the parasites move through the body and invade the liver. Meanwhile, another group of mice with a vaccine targeting a protein that helps parasites reproduce in a mosquitoe's midgut.

These mice were then exposed to parasite-causing infection. The study found both vaccines induced a potent immune response in the mice and were highly effective in reducing infection in the host and in the mosquito vector.

The presence of protective antibodies during transmission of parasites to healthy mosquitoes dramatically reduced the parasite load in the mosquitoes, an important step in disrupting malaria transmission, according to the researchers.

"These vaccines were highly effective at preventing infection and they wiped out transmission potential almost entirely," Kumar said.


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