Research highlight

Raising a vaccine against malaria

Nature Communications

December 21, 2011

A vaccine raised against a malarial parasite protein can induce an antibody response in rabbits reports a paper published in Nature Communications this week. The findings suggest that the protein may be a good target for the production of a malarial vaccine Alexander Douglas and colleagues compared viral vector vaccines for ten different parasite blood-stage antigens and found that vaccination against reticulocyte-binding protein homologue 5 (PfRH5) produced neutralising antibodies and a superior response. These studies were carried out in rabbits and when the antibodies were tested against 5 parasite strains in culture they were found to inhibit parasite growth. The authors noted that little or no antibodies to PfRH5 could be detected in the blood of a group of Kenyan’s exposed to malaria, suggesting that the antigen is not under immune selection pressure. Taken together these findings suggest that this antigen may be a suitable target for vaccination against malaria.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms1615

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