Hope rises as new malaria vaccine lands in 2015

Category: Health & Physical Fitness

Malaria vaccine

Malaria, a disease that kills no fewer than 300, 000 Nigerian children under the age five , annually may soon become preventable in the country.

Reason: medical researchers say a new and more effective vaccine is under way and it will arrive Nigeria in 2015.

One of the scientist working on the vaccine research, Dr. Sophie Biernaux, stated this on Monday.
According to her, the vaccine, RTS,S,   has been submitted to the European Medicines Regulatory Agency for approval.

The research is being championed by GlaxoSmithKline with a US$200m grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.

Biernaux said the data collated from the phase III vaccine trial programme was conducted at 13 African research centres in eight African countries and that the exercise involved 16,000 infants and young children.

She named Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania as some of the countries used for the research.

According to her, the vaccine triggers the body’s immune system, defending it against the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite.

She stated, “The vaccine is designed to prevent the parasite from infecting, maturing and multiplying in the liver, after which time the parasite would re-enter the bloodstream and infect red blood cells, leading to disease symptoms. In the phase III efficacy trial, RTS,S was administered in three doses, one month apart and its outcome was outstanding.

Biernaux stated that EMA assessment done in collaboration with the World Health Organisation would ensure the use of the vaccine for malaria prevention in non-member European Union countries.

She stated, “The vaccine RTS,S is intended exclusively for use against the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite, which is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. Around 90 per cent of estimated deaths from malaria occur in SSA, and 77 per cent of these are in children under the age of five.
“The EMA submission is the first step in the regulatory process toward making the RTS,S available as an addition to existing tools currently recommended for malaria prevention. To-date there is no licensed vaccine available for the prevention of malaria. This is a key moment in our 30-year journey to develop RTS,S and brings us a step closer to making available the world’s first vaccine that can help protect children in Africa from malaria.”

Should the vaccine produced by GlaxoSmithKline be approved by the EMA, the WHO said, it would be changing malaria treatment guidelines for malaria by 2015 such that it would be included in the national immunisation schedules of young children and babies in Africa.

The Managing Director, GSK Nigeria, Dr. Lekan Asuni, stated that the approval by the European body was needed for the National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control to accept the use of the vaccine in Nigeria.

Asuni said the result of the clinical trial conducted by the pharmaceutical company in collaboration with research centre in Nigeria had been submitted for the WHO/EMA approval.

Source: Punch 

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