Monday, 31 December 2012

MALARIA: Africa progress

From:William Brieger

Date:Mon, Dec 31, 2012 11:30 am



Scientists across the world and in Africa are making vast advances on vaccinations and treatments for diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.

The University of Cape Town's Science Department is working on a single-dose cure for malaria that kills the parasite instantly.

It is due to complete trials of the aminopyridine-class drug in late 2013.

Professor Kelly Chibale hailed it as a first for African scientists working in Africa.

Tests of GlaxoSmithKline's RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine did not reveal the high rates of reliability desired, but showed that it may be possible to meet the World Health Organization's target of developing a malaria vaccine with an efficacy rate of 80% for severe forms of the disease.

The vaccine tested on toddlers aged 5-17 months had an efficacy rate of 56% on detectable malaria and 47% on severe malaria.

The vaccine is the result of more than 30 years of research that will cost $600-700m by the time the study is completed.

John Lusingu, a principal investigator of the third phase of the vaccine trial, said: "We don't have a cut-off point to say at this level the vaccine should be recommended for public health use.

"This is the first malaria vac-cine, we don't have any other to compare."

For the past 10 years researchers at Oxford University have been developing a vaccine – MVA85A – to combat tuberculosis.

It is the first of its kind since 1921 and has cost £30m ($48mn) so far.

The first trial involved the inoculation of 3,000 babies in South Africa. The results are set to be released in the first quarter of 2013●

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