A breakthrough in developing a vaccine against malaria
This is big news, almost on par with the successful development of a vaccine against polio.
About 1 million people die every year from malaria, about 200 million more are sickened. The drive to eradicate the disease has been two centuries in the making and it appears that researchers have finally had a breakthrough with developing a vaccine that could prevent the disease from taking hold.
Researchers caution that the results are preliminary. But if the the tests pan out, the vaccine could save hundreds of thousands of lives.
U.S. researchers reported a breakthrough Thursday in the search for a vaccine for malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that sickens millions worldwide.
More than three dozen volunteers received multiple, intravenous doses of a vaccine produced with a weakened form of the disease, scientists from the National Institutes of Health, the Navy, Army and other organizations reported Thursday.
Though the results were promising, more extensive field testing will be required, the researchers wrote. Nevertheless, the it marks the first time any vaccine trial has shown 100% success in protecting subjects from the mosquito-borne tropical disease, which sickens more than 200 million a year and killed about 660,000 in 2010.
Dr. William Schaffner, head of the preventive medicine department at Vanderbilt University's medical school, called the results "a scientific advance" -- but cautioned that it's "not ready yet for prime time."
"This is not a vaccine that's ready for travelers to the developing world anytime soon," Schaffner told CNN. "However, from the point of view of science dealing with one of the big-three infectious causes of death around the world, it's a notable advance. And everybody will be holding their breath, watching to see whether this next trial works and how well it works."
The findings were published Thursday by the peer-reviewed journal Science. The trials involved 57 subjects, including 40 who received the vaccine, from October 2011 to October 2012.
The quest to cure malaria is like a good detective story. There are suspects, clues, dead ends, and plot twists aplenty. The process hasn't gotten quite to the point where we can say "Mr. Mustard did it in the drawing room with a candelabra." But we're getting close.