Saturday, June 12, 2010

Modifying yellow fever vaccine to fight malaria

A group of researchers from Rice University have found that modifying the yellow fever vaccine can be used as a malaria vaccine. The modified yellow fever vaccine along with a booster can fend off the effects of malaria in mice. The results of the study were published in the May 6th issue of the journal Vaccine.

From the New Kerala, we read more about the study.

Malaria is one of the most pressing health crises of developing countries: in communities stricken by infection, attendance at work and school drops, and poverty deepens. It has been known since the 1960s that one form of the malaria parasite - called the sporozoite - can wake up the immune system and help to protect against future infection.

The only way to gather sporozoites, however, is to pluck them one-by-one from the salivary glands of irradiated, malaria-ridden mosquitoes.

To provide immunity, the attenuated parasites must then be injected in high doses - or delivered by the bites of hundreds of mosquitoes - a labor intensive approach not feasible for large-scale use.

"We needed to come up with another way to get the benefits of sporozoite immunization," said Charles M. Rice, head of the Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Disease.

Along with researchers from Michel C. Nussenzweig''s Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at Rockefeller and colleagues at New York University, Rice and his team considered that fighting infection with infection might be the key.

They began experimenting with the attenuated yellow fever strain used in the yellow fever vaccine, known as YF17D, which has been used to successfully vaccinate more than 400 million people since 1937.

Previous work in the Rice laboratory and by others had shown that this vaccine strain could be modified to include short sequences from other pathogens, including malaria.

In experiments published last month in Vaccine, the researchers inserted the nearly complete sequence of a malaria gene into the YF17D vaccine and found that the gene could produce its protein in cultured cells.

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