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New Vaccine Prevents the Spread of Malaria in 100 Percent of Participants

Malaria kills about one million people and sickens more than 200 million people every year. However, recent findings from the National Institutes of Health have concluded that an experimental drug may provide a necessary cure for millions around the world. 

 

A year-long study determined that a new drug prevents the spread of malaria in 100 percent of participants. The vaccine (PfSPZ) was administered to 40 people, and of those volunteers who received the highest dosage through five intravenous doses, 100 percent were protected against the disease. PfSPZ includes weakened versions of the parasites that cause malaria; those parasites were treated with radiation and frozen prior to injection. This drug creates T-cells which work within the liver to kill the parasite before it has time to grow.

 

Although this drug may appear as a blessing for people in countries stricken by malaria, scientists insist that further testing is required. In addition, this drug is expensive to make, difficult to administer, and it is not yet clear how long the protection lasts or how long it may take to be approved and distributed by the scientific community.

 

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." (CNN)

 

"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."

 

How You Can Help:

  • Donate to Malaria No More, an organization dedicated to ending malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. 
  • While traveling, be sure to stay informed about ways to prevent malaria and which countries have a high risk for malaria.
  • Send a mosquito net to save a life through the Nothing But Nets organization.
  • Tell your Senators and Representatives to support congressional funding to end malaria deaths by sending them a personal letter.