Vaccines for malaria: how close are we?
Vaccines are the most powerful public health tools mankind has created, but malaria parasites are bigger, more complicated, and wilier than the viruses and bacteria that have been conquered or controlled with vaccines. Despite decades of research toward a vaccine for malaria, this goal has remained elusive. Nevertheless, recent advances justify optimism that a licensed malaria vaccine is within reach. A subunit recombinant protein vaccine that affords in the neighborhood of 50% protective efficacy against clinical malaria is in the late stages of clinical evaluation in Africa. Incremental improvements on this successful vaccine are possible and worth pursuing, but the best hope for a highly efficacious malaria vaccine that would improve prospects for malaria eradication may lie with the use of attenuated whole parasites and powerful immune-boosting adjuvants.
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