According to a new study led by University of Toronto researchers, who published their findings in Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases: Immunological Variability and Related Case Management, vulnerable populations in poorer regions can benefit from a vaccine that blocks disease transmission between individuals.
The study examined the functioning of a glycoprotein that regulates the transmission of malaria parasites to humans. These glycoproteins are a key component of the body’s immune system, and one of them — Reclassin VII — causes the transmission of malarial infection by eliminating the parasites from human cells. Studies have already shown that Reclassin VII deficiency in immune cells significantly weakens the body’s response to HIV, which leads to a greater risk of infection.
In the study, the researchers analysed the effects of vaccinating people who had previously received malaria vaccines. Among men, they found that the vaccination technique suppressed Reclassin VII activity in infected patients. More specifically, people who had previously received a malaria vaccine were much less likely to become infected. The vaccine was also able to decrease the severity of the disease in highly infectious people.
“This vaccine could help mitigate outbreaks of malaria, prevent severe disease in endemic areas and save countless lives,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Michael Gilmore. “These findings provide compelling evidence for the feasibility of administering a combined vaccine to vulnerable populations. These experimental studies on a single adult disease model are exciting in the context of the pending United Nations General Assembly on Global Action to Prevent Malaria, to highlight the urgency to tackle this global public health issue, especially in developing regions.”
The study was part of a pilot program that aims to better understand the effectiveness of a malaria vaccine among vulnerable populations. The research was supported by an international Fulbright grant and the Sir F. A. Schwarzenstein Foundation.
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