A Dutch Malaria Vaccine

28 November 2005

BPRC - 1. A Dutch Malaria Vaccine

The first malaria vaccine invented by a Dutch research team  at the BPRC, Rijswijk will begin a clinical trial conducted by a team at RUNMC, Nijmegen on November 29st 2005. 

Malaria is one of the most devastating global health problems.  It kills as many as 2 million children each year in Africa alone.  There is currently no vaccine commercially  available that can prevent malaria. A vaccine for malaria is badly needed and a critical tool to control this deadly disease.

This is a major step forward for Dutch and European research, a point reached after many years of effort. Malaria parasites live inside red blood cells, and every 48 hours they leave one red cell and must enter a new one.   The protein vaccine, called AMA-1, is made and purified from yeast cells and is designed to induce antibodies that stop the malaria parasite from entering red blood cells. AMA-1 has been very effective in vaccine trials to prevent malaria in animals, the question now is whether it will induce a strong human  immune response which can later be tested for protective efficacy in Africa.

Very recently it has been shown that vaccination with another malaria protein developed by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, induces 30% protection in African children that lasts over an 18 month period  (Lancet Nov 2005). More and better vaccine prototypes will be needed.  This AMA-1 vaccine targets a different part of the malaria parasite life cycle.

The collaboration for clinical testing of the vaccine is between research groups at the Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Rijswijk (BPRC) and the Radboud University of Nijmegen Medical Centre (RUNMC).  The study is being supported by the European Malaria Vaccine Initiative, itself a recipient of funds from the Dutch Ministry of Development Cooperation (DGIS).

Team leaders:
Dr. Alan Thomas: Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC)
Prof. Dr. Robert  Sauerwein : Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre