News items First volunteers vaccinated with Radboudumc malaria vaccine
20 May 2021

Today a new vaccine against malaria, largely developed in Nijmegen, is being tested for the first time in volunteers at Radboudumc.

Almost half a million people die of malaria every year, especially young children in Africa. The germs of malaria (the parasites) are transferred from one person to another via the malaria mosquito. This new vaccine aims to prevent this transmission, so malaria cannot spread further.

New concept

Scientists from Nijmegen were at the forefront of this vaccine in the 1990s, when they discovered a protein of the parasite (the Pfs48 / 45 protein) that plays an essential role in the transmission of the malaria parasite to the mosquito. By switching off this protein, the formation of new parasites in the mosquito can be blocked. This prevents other people from being infected via a mosquito bite. The vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting malaria yourself, but it prevents the spread of malaria in other people. This was a completely new concept at the time. Together with Danish colleagues from the Statens Serum Institute, this protein has now been developed into a form (called R0.6C) that can be administered as a vaccine against malaria.

Antibodies

The so-called R0.6C vaccine is a recombinant product that targets the Pfs48 / 45 protein. This vaccine must generate antibodies (antibodies) against this protein in humans. If someone with malaria and the administered vaccine is bitten by a mosquito, that mosquito will also ingest the antibodies. Those antibodies will block the development of the parasites in the mosquito. This prevents further spread of malaria in the human population.

Safety first

Whether the concept works must be carefully tested of course. The first test (phase 1 study), which is now being carried out on volunteers at Radboudumc, is investigating the safety of this vaccine. It’s also being examined whether antibodies that can prevent the transmission of malaria are indeed formed in the blood of the volunteers.

More at www.radboudumc.nl/malariavaccin

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Pieter Lomans

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