Washington: It is possible that more-virulent strains of malaria might evolve if a malaria vaccine goes into widespread use, researchers at Penn State University say.They found that malaria parasites evolving in vaccinated laboratory mice become more virulent.The mice were injected with a critical component of several candidate human malaria vaccines that now are being evaluated in clinical trials.“Our research shows immunization with this particular type of malaria vaccine can create ecological conditions that favour the evolution of parasites that cause more severe disease in unvaccinated mice,” said Andrew Read, Alumni Professor of Biological Sciences at Penn State.“We are a long way from being able to assess the likelihood of this process occurring in humans, but our research suggests the need for vigilance,” Read said.The research showed that more-virulent malaria parasites evolved in response to vaccination, but the exact mechanism is still a mystery. It was not due to changes in the part of the parasite targeted by the vaccine.
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