26 April 2018

Tanzania: Malaria Vaccines Show Positive Signs

Dar es Salaam — Hope of getting a malaria vaccine is increasing following the announcement by Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) on Wednesday that two of its projects had shown positive results.

Preliminary findings have shown that two developed vaccines (PfSPZ Vaccine and PfRH5) have the capability of weakening malaria parasites.

IHI researcher Ally Olotu said the development was aimed at securing a malaria vaccine that would totally eliminate the killer disease.

"PfSPZ vaccine has reagents that weaken sporozoites (malaria parasites), thereby enabling the body to develop immunity to protect against malaria on the liver," he said.

Dr Olotu said the second vaccine provides immunity by preventing malaria parasites from attacking red blood cells.

"Earlier research conducted in the United States showed that our intellectually developed PfSPZ vaccine could provide average immunity against malaria. Current research is looking into another dose, which is a different vaccination that is more powerful."

Dr Olotu said that preliminary research conducted on the second vaccine, PfRH5, in the United Kingdom had also shown great success, especially with adults.

"The first test involves 20 adults and the test for the second vaccine involves 63 people, including children ranging between six months and six years, who succumb most to malaria," he said.

However, he said although it was a preliminary stage of developing the malaria vaccine, the results pointed to closeness in coming up with a permanent solution, especially for areas facing high incidences of malaria in Tanzania.

Meanwhile, Dr Olotu said IHI is currently collaborating with Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) in developing an anti-malaria medicine named KF156.

"We collaborated during the preliminary stages, but we are currently engaging Novartis, which is a global pharmaceutical firm, for the second stage of research," he said.

Kemri senior research officer Bernhards Ogutu said IHI and Kemri have been collaborating on development of KF156 since the preliminary stages.

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