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Experimental Malaria Vaccine Protects Babies for 18 Months

MosquitoThe experimental malaria vaccine known as RTS,S is aiming to become the first drug that is specifically designed to protect babies from the deadly disease. According to GlaxoSmithKline, the drug has protected babies for a span up to 18 months.

Last week, GlaxoSmithKline asked the European Medicines Agency to approve the RTS,S drug for free market use. The agency tested the drug on more than 15,000 babies aged from six weeks to 17 months. Results have clearly shown that close to half of all babies, 46 percent, were  protected from malaria for a period of 18 months after being administered a three-dose series of the vaccine.

According to Mary Hamel of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccine averted an average of 829 cases of malaria per 1,000 children vaccinated.

While not a large concern in the United States, malaria is a major killed in many parts of the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 200 million cases of malaria are reported each year. More than 600,000 people die very year from malaria-related issues. Most of the deaths associated with malaria are related to children.

In order to test the efficacy of the new treatment, 6,537 infants aged six to twelve weeks and 8,923 children aged five to seven months were randomized to receive three doses of RTS,S/AS01 or a comparator vaccine.

After testing the new vaccine, researchers found that RTS,S/AS01 prevented many cases of clinical and severe malaria, with the highest impact in areas with the greatest malaria incidence.

Results from the human trial were first reported in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.

References

Efficacy and Safety of the RTS,S/AS01 Malaria Vaccine during 18 Months after Vaccination: A Phase 3 Randomized, Controlled Trial in Children and Young Infants at 11 African Sites: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001685

Image Credits

Mosquito: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1431624

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