A vaccine would greatly accelerate current global efforts towards malaria elimination. While a partially efficacious vaccine has been achieved for Plasmodium falciparum, a major bottleneck in developing highly efficacious vaccines is a lack of reliable correlates of protection, and the limited application of assays that quantify functional immune responses to evaluate and down-select vaccine candidates in pre-clinical studies and clinical trials.
Malaria is a highly prevalent parasitic disease in regions with tropical and subtropical climates worldwide. Among the species of Plasmodium causing human malaria, P. vivax is the second most prevalent and the most geographically widespread species. A major target of a pre-erythrocytic vaccine is the P. vivax circumsporozoite protein (PvCSP). In previous studies, we fused two recombinant proteins representing three allelic variants of PvCSP (VK210, VK247 and P. vivax-like) to the mumps virus nucleocapsid protein to enhance immune responses against PvCSP.
In order to be successful in global health today, all the long-established European tropical research institutes had to undergo a transition which can be described as "hunter-gatherer" and descriptive approaches during colonial and postcolonial times to a deeper understanding of infection biology and finally to public health interventions from which populations at large can benefit. During the 1980s and 1990s, the Swiss Tropical Institute (today: Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Swiss TPH) based in Basel too has changed its focus from individual medicine to a public health context.
Placental malaria is a public health burden particularly in Africa as it causes severe symptoms and results in stillbirths or maternal deaths. Plasmodium falciparum protein VAR2CSA drives placental malaria (PM) in pregnant women by adhering to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA) on the placenta. VAR2CSA is a primary vaccine candidate for PM with two vaccines based on it already under clinical trials.
Genetic variation is one of the major obstacles in the development of effective vaccines. A multivalent malaria vaccine is required to increase efficacy and confer long term protection. In this context, we analysed the genetic diversity, expression profile, and immune response against Pf34.
A powerful new weapon could one day join the global fight against malaria, especially to help people who need temporary protection from the deadly disease. Drugs and bed nets can to some extent already protect against the disease, which still sickens at least 200 million people a year and kills an estimated 400,000. Vaccines have also shown some promise.
Plasmodium vivax transmission-blocking vaccines (TBVs) are receiving increasing attention. Based on excellent transmission-blocking activities of the PbPH (PBANKA_0417200) and PbSOP26 (PBANKA_1457700) antigens in Plasmodium berghei, their orthologs in P. vivax, PVX_098655 (PvPH) and PVX_101120 (PvSOP26), were selected for the evaluation of their potential as TBVs.
Genetic diversity of surface exposed and stage specific Plasmodium falciparum immunogenic proteins pose a major roadblock to developing an effective malaria vaccine with broad and long-lasting immunity. We conducted a prospective genetic analysis of candidate antigens (msp1, ama1, rh5, eba175, glurp, celtos, csp, lsa3, Pfsea, trap, conserved chrom3, hyp9, hyp10, phistb, surfin8.2, and surfin14.1) for malaria vaccine development on 2375 P. falciparum sequences from 16 African countries.
Plasmodium vivax, a major contributor to the malaria burden in India, has the broadest geographic distribution and shows higher genetic diversity than P. falciparum. Here, we investigated the genetic diversity of two leading P. vivax vaccine candidate antigens, at three geographically diverse malaria-endemic regions in India. Pvama1 and Pvmsp119 partial coding sequences were generated from one hundred P. vivax isolates in India (Chennai n = 28, Nadiad n = 50 and Rourkela n = 22) and ~1100 published sequences from Asia, South America, North America, and Oceania regions included.
Malaria vaccines hold significant promise for life-saving benefit, especially to children who bear the major burden of malaria mortality. The RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine provides moderate efficacy and is being tested in implementation studies. In parallel, multiple strategies are being advanced to test next-generation malaria vaccines, including novel approaches that build on principles learned from RTS,S development, vaccination with radiation-attenuated sporozoites, and development of monoclonal antibodies targeting immunogenic peptides.