First promising results for a malaria vaccine

Malaria is the 5th cause of death in low-income countries (according to WHO). That’s why I’m very happy to read that a malaria vaccine showed promising results in a phase 3 clinical trial (in The Guardian, The New York Times or Google News). As usual, I find very interesting to get all the information at the source: the original scientific paper was just published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The main result of this study is that “the vaccine reduced malaria by half in [young] children […] during the 12 months after vaccination”. The study also showed that “the vaccine has the potential to have an important effect on the burden of malaria in young African children“. The conclusion of the article ends with “additional information on vaccine efficacy among young infants and the duration of protection will be critical to determining how this vaccine could be used most effectively to control malaria“.

Indeed, as highlighted by the timeline reproduced below, the clinical trial isn’t over yet. Some data still needs to be reported (regarding younger children and duration of protection, as stated above).

RTS,S malaria vaccine candidate timeline (Source: PATH MVI)
RTS,S malaria vaccine candidate timeline (source: PATH MVI)

If you want to follow what’s happening with this vaccine, the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative seeks “to accelerate the development of malaria vaccines and ensure their availability and accessibility in the developing world” and their website contains lots of useful information.

Disclaimer: I’m currently working for the pharmaceutical company that discovered and produced the RTS,S vaccine in this study. I’m however not part of the malaria team in any way. There is only publicly available information in this post.