US government researchers found that lab-engineered antibody has protected the majority of participants from the malaria parasite, including those who received a higher dosage of the antibody, US News & World August 4 reports. The antibody can also be given with a standard injection, instead of the typical monoclonal antibodies delivery through IV infusion.
These findings are still in early stages, but experts describe them as an “exciting” development against such a threatening disease in developing countries. The disease is caused by a parasite that is transmitted through various mosquitoes. Despite several prevention efforts, including insecticide-threated bed nets and disease-preventing medications, malaria remains a major killer.
In 2020, more than 240 million people contracted malaria and over 600,000 died, most of whom were children in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2021, the World Health Organization approved Mosquirix, the first-ever malaria vaccine for young children. The vaccine, on average, reduces a child’s risk of contraction by 36% over 4 years.
Dr Robert Seder of the US National of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and his colleagues have been working on developing the new approach: a monoclonal antibody that recognizes a protein on the sporozoite’ surface and prevents it from invading the liver. In theory, this strategy could be more beneficial than a vaccine because monoclonal antibodies are more predictable. A study is already underway in Mali and another is ready to start in Kenya, Seder added.
If the tactic proves effective, one question will be how to fit it in with existing prevention efforts, including the vaccine, said Dr. Johanna Daily, an infectious disease specialist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. One option, Seder said, might be vaccinating babies, then giving the antibody as a booster—perhaps annually, over several years.Read More >>