Immunization with radiation-attenuated sporozoites (RAS) by mosquito bites provides >90% sterile protection against Plasmodium falciparum malaria in humans. We conducted a clinical trial based on data from previous RAS clinical trials that suggested that 800–1200 infected bites should induce ~50% protective vaccine efficacy (VE) against controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) administered three weeks after the final immunization. Two cohorts were immunized separately. VE was 55% in Cohort 1 but 90% in Cohort 2, the cohort that received a higher first dose and a reduced (fractional) fifth dose. Immune responses were better boosted by the fractional fifth dose in Cohort 2 and suggested the importance of the fractional fifth dose for increased protection in Cohort 2 responses. Three protected subjects were later boosted and were protected suggesting that protection could be extended to at least 67 weeks.
Vaccination with radiation-attenuated Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites is known to induce protective immunity. However, the mechanisms underlying this protection remain unclear. In this work, two recent radiation-attenuated sporozoite vaccination studies were used to identify potential transcriptional correlates of vaccination-induced protection.