March 20, 2017 3:30 am JST

Japanese team testing malaria vaccine in West Africa

Clinical trials by Osaka U. and Nobelpharma to start in May

OSAKA -- Osaka University and drugmaker Nobelpharma will conduct first-round clinical trials of a promising malaria vaccine developed by the school in West Africa starting in May.

A total of 153 people will take part in the tests in Burkina Faso -- adults, children between the ages of 5 and 10, and 1-year-old infants. The individuals will be divided into two groups, one given the experimental vaccine, the other an existing tetanus vaccine. The safety of the candidate vaccine will be determined by monitoring the health of the subjects.

The Osaka University team, led by Professor Toshihiro Horii, conducted tests on a previous malaria vaccine by 2013. In order to enhance its effectiveness, the updated vaccine will add nucleic acids with sequencing similar to a bacteria DNA. That mixture is expected to fool the body into creating effective antibodies against the protozoans.

More than 200 million people globally fall ill from malaria, and more than 400,000 cases prove fatal. Conventional malaria prophylactic drugs are ineffective in the long term after the parasites become resistant to them. A vaccine developed by British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline won scientific recommendation from a European medical agency, but it has yet to be commercialized.

(Nikkei)

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