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Malaria Vaccine Finally!

Doctor's age long quest for a malaria vaccine has finally paid off as health officials in Europe on Friday, approved the world's first vaccine for malaria

The ancient scourge spread by mosquitoes sickened nearly 200 million people in 2013, killing about 600,000 -- mostly in Africa.

The malaria parasite which is carried by mosquitoes can persist in the human body for years. It is harder to make a vaccine against a parasite as compared to a virus or bacteria, because the parasite has a complicated life cycle that takes it from the blood to the liver and back again.

Most of the victims of malaria are children under the age of 5. In fact, the disease claims the life of one child every minute. After almost three decades of research, Dr. Moncef Slaoui and his team at GSK have finally produced an effective vaccine.
According to Slaoui, the vaccine is only about 30 percent effective, but with malaria so rampant, it could be a game-changer, preventing hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.
Dr. Slaoui has been working on the vaccine for 27 years, and it was really emotional for him to hear that it had been approved.

GlaxoSmithKline worked with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative to develop the vaccine, which was called RTS,S when it was experimental but which now has the brand name Mosquirix. The European Medicines Agency has OK'd it for use in children 6 weeks to 17 months old.

The Vice president of product development for PATH, Dr David Kaslow, MD said in a statement that today marked a significant scientific milestone for the long-standing partnership to develop a vaccine, but stressed that there were yet many steps to be taken in order to have the vaccine reach children in Africa who are most in need of protection against the parasite.

The vaccine was tested in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and cost about $600 million to develop. It's now up to the World Health Organization to determine its roll-out date, which could be as early as 2016.

Ref: CBS news, NBC news
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