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First Malaria Vaccine Could Be Available in Four Years Cont.
The military’s search for a vaccine
WRAIR malaria expert Col. Christian F. Ockenhouse, MD, PhD, told U.S. Medicine that researchers there were, “pleased that such a vaccine has met and exceeded expectations,” and that the RTS,S vaccine represents “over two decades of collaborative partnership between WRAIR and GlaxoSmithKline.”
Ockenhouse said that WRAIR’s role in the co-development and advancement of the RTS,S vaccine included clinical testing of more than a dozen prototypes leading up to the phase 2 and 3 field studies of RTS,S in sub-Saharan Africa; first proof-of-concept clinical trial demonstrating protective efficacy of RTS,S against malaria challenge in subjects tested at WRAIR; first testing of RTS,S vaccine in Africa; improvements to the safety & efficacy of the vaccine by testing different adjuvant formulations with RTS,S first in non-human primates then in human volunteers; and current participation in the phase 3 clinical trial at WRAIR field site in Western Kenya.
The military has been keenly interested in the development of a malaria vaccine, because the parasite-borne disease also puts troops at risk. Without an FDA-approved malaria vaccine, deployed troops must completely rely on the use of antimalarial drugs, bed nets and other methods to repel potentially infected mosquitoes. While these preventive methods work, in theory, compliance can be a problem, and any breakdown in protocol can have serious implications.
While the military played a role in the development of the RTS,S candidate vaccine, it continues to search for a malaria vaccine that will suit the needs of troops. The U.S. Military Malaria Vaccine Program’s goal is to develop a vaccine that yields at least an 80% protection rate.
Because RTS,S, does not yield this protection rate against P. falciparum, WRAIR scientists are working with outside partners to see if they can improve the efficacy of RTS,S. In addition, other malaria vaccine approaches are being pursued by military researchers at the USMMVP.
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