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Malaria Prevention May Soon Include Monoclonal Antibodies and Vaccines

August 12, 2021 • 5:19 pm CDT
(Vax Before Travel)

One dose of a new monoclonal antibody discovered and developed at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) safely prevented malaria for up to nine months in people exposed to the malaria parasite.

This clinical trial is the first to demonstrate that a monoclonal antibody can prevent malaria in people.

“Malaria continues to be a major cause of illness and death in many regions of the world, especially in infants and young children," stated Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

“The results reported suggest that a single infusion of a monoclonal antibody can (temporary) protect people from malaria."

The findings were published in The New England Journal of Medicine on August 11, 2021. 

According to the WHO, malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites, transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquito injects the parasites in a form called sporozoites into the skin and bloodstream.

An estimated 229 million malaria cases occurred worldwide in 2019, resulting in an estimated 409,000 deaths, mostly in children in sub-Saharan Africa. The vast majority of cases in the USA are in travelers returning from countries where malaria transmission occurs.

As of August 12, 2021, the U.S. FDA had not Approved a malaria vaccine.

However, GSK's Mosquirix RTS, S/AS01e, is a recombinant vaccine consisting of the P. falciparum circumsporozoite protein (CSP) from the pre-erythrocytic stage. Mosquirix is being tested in three African countries, aiming to trigger the immune system to defend against the first stages when the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite enters the human host’s bloodstream through a mosquito bite and infects liver cells.

And BioNTech SE announced on July 26, 2021, it intends to build on its success in COVID-19 by developing the first vaccine for malaria based on mRNA technology, planning to start clinical testing in late 2022.