Scientists across Africa are celebrating the news that the world’s first vaccine against malaria has been approved by the European Medicines Agency.
The vaccine, named Mosquirix, was given the green light on Friday after more than 30 years of research, detailed in 230,000 pages of data. It now means that the vaccine will be examined by the World Health Organisation and, if approved, could be administered to children across Africa within the next few years.
“It’s massively significant,” said Allan Pamba, vice president for pharmaceuticals in East Africa for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which has spent more than $356 million (£230m) to date on finding a vaccine. GSK expects to invest a further $200 to $250 million until development is completed. In January 2001, GSK and PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, with grant monies from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to PATH, entered into a public-private partnership to develop a vaccine. PATH has invested more than $200 million, much of it from the Gateses.
“Malaria has been incredibly difficult to crack. It’s been tremendously frustrating. But we are all immensely proud to have reached this milestone.”
The WHO has said it may give a policy recommendation by the end of the year; African authorities will then take their decisions about how and where they would implement a vaccination programme.
But, given that an estimated 600,000 people die from malaria every year – 90 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa – Dr Pamba said the health ministers he spoke to on a regular basis were eagerly awaiting the arrival of a vaccine.
Quick Information about MALARIA:
Spread of the disease:
– Half the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. It is estimated that every year up to 300 million cases of malaria in the world, and that up to one million people die of the disease.
– Malaria is found especially in the African countries south of the Sahara, where 90 percent of all cases occur. Here it is especially children under five who are infected and up to 800,000 children under five die each year due to malaria. The figures are uncertain because many of these cases are recorded.
– In recent years, the Preventive interventions for disease borne fruit and the number of malaria deaths has dropped, even among children. Yet door approximately one child per minute from malaria.
Source: Doctors Without Borders.
An important piece of the puzzle
The Company’s clinical studies with the vaccine shows that it can reduce disease incidence among young children by between 27 and 46 percent, but it does not protect completely against malaria, which mainly affects babies and small children in the poorest countries in Africa.
WHO is concerned that they may be ready with a political recommendation by the end of the year. Subsequently, the African authorities decide how they will implement the vaccination program.
Michael Theisen, who researches malaria at the Danish State Serum Institute, calls it great news, since the vaccine will save lives and improve health in Africa.
– It is really a great thing, because we have never had a vaccine before against malaria. It has been
studied in very many trials and is proven to have great effect.
Some other natural medications against malaria.
Research to develop antimalarial drugs led to the discovery of artemisinin, which is extracted from Artemisia annua, a herb traditionally used as a fever treatment. While most TCM herbs are boiled at high temperature that can damage the active ingredient in Artemisia annua, one traditional source says that this herb is to be steeped in cold water; knowing this, scientists found that a better extract was obtained by using a low-temperature ether-based extraction method, and by adding detoxification and purification processes, they could create a drug with sufficient active ingredient to be effective.
Researchers at the Danish University Hospital and Pharmaceutical College have found that Chinese licorice root contains substances that have activity against malaria parasites that has become resistant to a number of means. One of the active substances is a relatively simple aromatic compound licochalcon A.
It is not recommended that you simply fill with liquorice, when traveling in the tropics, as liquorice also contains a substance glycyrrhizin, which causes high blood pressure. Glycyrhizin is an acetal, wherein the OH group in the glycyrrhetinic acid has formed acetal of a carbohydrate.
As for myself as a write i have used the licorice root to chew it and also close friends that used to suffer from Malaria started chewing it, and got rid of the malaria. today i do not chew it anymore, but i have never contracted malaria.
The number of deaths caused by malaria has declined in recent years thanks to the spread of mosquito nets and medication, but an effective vaccine can be an important corner piece of the puzzle.
The vaccine is designed to prevent malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum parasite.
It is the first vaccine which counteracts the effects of a parasite.
The vaccine will prevent the parasite from infect and replicate in the liver, the parasite would then re-enter the blood stream and infect the red blood cells, leading to the disease symptoms.
A really good start
Michael Theisen call it a really good start, but also emphasized that there is still a long way and that the puzzle is far from being completed finished.
– It is a really good start, and then you have to say that here we have for the first time something that works, and so shall it be used in combination with something else. It may be mosquito nets, it can be general economic growth, which we know is good for fighting diseases, says Michael Theisen.
GlaxoSmithKline has promised that the company will not make money on selling Mosquirix. It must be sold at cost price plus five percent to be invested in continued research into malaria.
“Pretty much every health minister I speak to has had malaria,” said Dr Pamba, who was born in Kenya and now works between Nairobi and London. “They all want to know when it will be ready.”
Mosquirix, whose scientific name is “RTS,S” has been designed to prevent malaria caused by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, which is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. It is the first vaccine to be developed which counters the effects of a parasite.
The vaccine is designed to prevent the parasite from infecting, maturing and multiplying in the liver, after which time the parasite would re-enter the bloodstream and infect red blood cells, leading to disease symptoms.
The developers carried out a trial program involving more than 16,000 young children, conducted by 13 African research centres in eight African countries – Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Tanzania.
Two groups of children were tested: infants aged from six to 12 weeks, and young children aged five to 17 months.
Data from the trial program demonstrate that over the first 18 months following three doses of RTS,S, malaria cases were reduced by almost half in the older group. With infants, cases dropped by 27 per cent.
Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, said: “Today’s scientific opinion represents a further important step towards making available for young children the world’s first malaria vaccine.
“While RTS,S on its own is not the complete answer to malaria, its use alongside those interventions currently available such as bed nets and insecticides, would provide a very meaningful contribution to controlling the impact of malaria on children in those African communities that need it the most.”