Now, VIP jab that can protect against malaria

Washington: Researchers have found a new promising approach, Vectored immunoprophylaxis, in order to fight better against malaria.

Vectored immunoprophylaxis injection triggered creation of antibodies that prevented malaria in 70 percent of mice. Mice, injected with a virus genetically altered to help the rodents create an antibody designed to fight the malaria parasite, produced high levels of the anti-malaria antibody. The approach, known as Vector immunoprophylaxis or VIP, has shown promising results in HIV studies but was never been tested with malaria, for which no licensed vaccine exists.

There would be a fine line between a vaccine and a VIP injection. One key difference: a VIP injection has been formulated to produce a specific antibody. VIP technology bypasses the requirement of the host to make its own immune response against malaria, which was what occurs with a vaccine. Instead VIP provides the protective antibody gene, giving the host the tools to target the malaria parasite.

Gary Ketner, PhD, said that the body was actually producing a malaria-neutralizing antibody, instead of playing defense, the host wasplaying offense.

One advantage of this targeted approach over a traditional vaccine was that the body might be able to continue to produce the antibody. With a vaccine, the natural immune response wanes over time, sometimes losing the ability to continue to resist infection, which would require follow-up booster shots. However, this could be challenging for people living in remote and or rural areas where malaria was prevalent but health care access limited. Any immunization protocol that involved one injection would be preferable.

Cailin Deal, PhD, said that its dose dependent, however, they don't know what the human dosage would be, but it's conceivable that the right dosage could completely protect against malaria.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


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