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09.09.2003 General News

Malaria vaccine trial begins in Mali

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Accra, Sept. 10, GNA - The first trial of a candidate malaria vaccine began in Mali in July with support from the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and other international partners.

A statement in Accra on Wednesday by the US Embassy said the NIAID called the trial a "milestone" in the effort to develop a vaccine against malaria, which infects 300 to 500 million people each year and kills one million, most of them children.

Malian researchers at the Department of Epidemiology of Parasitic Diseases at the Medical School of the University of Bamako are conducting the trial.

"The candidate vaccine has been proven safe and effective in two earlier trials. The current work will attempt to confirm the safety of the vaccine and its capability to prompt an immune response in the volunteer participants," it said.

It said a key component of the NIAID Plan for Research for Malaria Vaccine Development has been to establish, in malaria-endemic areas, research centres that could support the complex clinical development of malaria vaccines.

"Conducting a malaria vaccine trial in Africa is important because more than 90 percent of malaria deaths occur in Africa, and the great majority of these deaths are in young children." It said developed by WRAIR in collaboration with GSK Biologicals, and with support from USAID, the FMP-1 vaccine has already proved safe and immunogenic in two small Phase I and Phase IIa studies in the United States and an additional

Phase I study in Kenya.

The trial will enrol 40 adults between the ages of 18 and 55. Half of the volunteers will receive the malaria vaccine and half will serve as a control group by receiving a licensed rabies vaccine. Each volunteer will receive three injections over two months, and the researchers will follow each volunteer for one year, monitoring the long-term safety of the vaccine and analysing the immune responses against the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite.

NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to malaria research, NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious and immune-mediated illnesses, including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, illness from potential agents of bioterrorism, tuberculosis, autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies. 10 Sept. 03

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