A Portuguese team has developed a vaccine capable of fighting Malaria and has already achieved success in tests. Malaria kills about 429 000 people every year in Africa alone, with most of the victims being children, who are bitten by the mosquito carrying the parasite. Poor countries are the regions most affected, due to the lack of economic capacity to finance means to fight the disease.
Fortunately there are people with power, who are concerned about the situation and want to help eradicate this evil, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, of billionaire Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, is one of the ones that are trying to help fight this evil, either for the attribution of mosquito nets and medicines, or for the allocation of thousands of dollars for the development of projects aimed at combating the disease.
A team from the Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM) in Lisbon, led by Miguel Prudêncio, was one of those contemplated with this allocation of funds for the creation of a vaccine, and the work that has taken place since 2010 seems to have finally reached success. With the culmination of seven years of testing on cells and animals, including primates, Prudêncio’s team is preparing to begin trials of the PbVac vaccine in the Netherlands, and based on the results obtained so far, we may be very close to a definitive solution to this evil.
Although several projects for the same purpose already exist on the market, they all have very limited effectiveness. The truth is that combating a proliferating infection is quite different from trying to create defenses for viruses or bacteria, and since parasites are complex beings, it is very complicated to target them because they have an enormous capacity to evade.
The disease begins in the first stage by expanding into the liver, showing no externally visible signs, and eventually migrates into the blood, at which point the victim begins to experience periods of fever, tremors, and extreme and widespread pain and fatigue.
Unlike the currently available vaccine that relies on the use of pieces of the parasite to create an immune reaction, a safe approach, but with a success rate below thirty percent, the new vaccine uses an intelligent and even revolutionary approach, uses a parasite that does not affect humans, but produces the proteins of the parasite that does it, they have managed to do so by using a parasite that normally infects rodents, genetically modified to produce proteins characteristic of the parasite that attacks humans. That is, the parasite does not infect us or have anything that can cause us damage, but it disguises itself with the same composition as the malaria parasite, causing our body to produce antibodies to fight it.
In the first tests, 12 volunteers will be vaccinated and subsequently infected with the malaria virus, and in these first tests, the vaccine will be administered through the created parasite and its salivary glands, later an injection version will be created. Only six people will receive the vaccine, the other six will be the control group, and will be monitored closely so that they can be treated at the first signs of infection. We are on the right track!