Genetically engineered, attenuated whole-cell vaccine approaches for malaria


The quest for an efficacious malaria vaccine has been ongoing for nearly a century with limited success. Malaria remains one of the most significant infectious diseases affecting human populations in developing countries.  The identification of a number of major malaria parasite antigens focused efforts on the development of subunit vaccines but has so far yielded only one partially efficacious vaccine candidate, RTS/S.  The lack of high vaccine efficacy observed with subunit vaccine candidates raises principal doubts that the development of a single antigen- or even a multi-antigen malaria subunit vaccine is possible. Fortunately, it has been demonstrated in animal studies and experimental clinical studies that immunizations with live-attenuated sporozoite stages of the malaria parasite confer long lasting, sterile protection against infection, providing a benchmark for vaccine development. These early successful vaccinations with live-attenuated malaria parasites did not however, promote a developmental path forward for such a vaccine approach.  The discovery of genetically engineered parasite strains that are fully attenuated during the early asymptomatic liver infection and confer complete sterile protection in animal malaria models support the development of a live attenuated sporozoite vaccine for Plasmodium falciparum and its accelerated safety and efficacy testing in malaria challenge models and in malaria endemic areas.

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Genetically engineered, attenuated whole-cell vaccine approaches for malaria