Breakthrough of global proportions

New research could lead to malaria vaccine

Study of the inner workings of the malaria parasite has given researchers new hope for future treatment and drug development.

Scientists at the UC San Francisco and Stanford medical schools have pinpointed a single, internally produced chemical that allows the parasite to exist in the human bloodstream, according to a UCSF press release.

Understanding the parasite’s dependence on the chemical has opened the door for a potential vaccine with a weakened version of the parasite that would provide people in high-risk regions with a resistance to the pathogen. However, such an approach would require testing in clinical trials.

Developing a vaccine for mosquito-borne malaria would be an accomplishment of global importance, as hundreds of millions of people are infected each year, with about a million succumbing to the disease.