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Malaria Malaria vaccine could save millions of children’s lives

The first-ever widescale trial of a malaria vaccine has produced promising results, say reseacrhers, raising hopes of an imminent breakthrough in the fight against the mosquito-borne tropical disease.

Each year, malaria occurs in approximately 225 million persons worldwide, and 781,000 persons, mostly African children, die from the disease.1 During the past decade, the scale-up of malaria-control interventions has resulted in considerable reductions in morbidity and mortality associated with malaria in parts of Africa.2,3 However, malaria continues to pose a major public health threat. A malaria vaccine, deployed in combination with current malaria-control tools, could play an important role in future control and eventual elimination of malaria in Africa.4

The RTS,S vaccine that targets the circumsporozoite protein and is given with an adjuvant system (AS01 or AS02) has consistently shown protection against Plasmodium falciparum malaria in children and infants in phase 2 trials.5-10 The vaccine had an acceptable side-effect profile and was immunogenic in children who were 6 weeks of age or older. In addition, the vaccine could be administered safely with other childhood vaccines8,11 and provided protection against severe malaria.5 Here, we report the initial results of an ongoing phase 3 trial being conducted at 11 centers in 7 African countries

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