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Biting edge of science . . . Irish scientists test vaccine for malaria

The first vaccine to protect against malaria is being tested in Ireland, it emerged yesterday.

The aim of the trial is to determine whether the vaccine is safe and makes someone immune to getting the disease.

Professor Sam McConkey of the Royal College of Surgeons, who is heading the research, said malaria parasites were becoming resistant to today's drugs, which had complicated treatment of the disease and created a need for expensive multi-drug therapy.

"In low-income countries where malaria is endemic, expensive multi-drug therapy is often not an available treatment option so there is a need for new preventative treatments," he said.

Previous studies found vaccines could temporarily and partially prevent infection and clinical malaria for 18 months.

However, this is aimed to offer long-term protection, reducing deaths from the disease and eradicating it.

The trial is being carried out by the Royal College of Surgeons in collaboration with the Jenner Institute at Oxford University in the UK. It is funded by the European Vaccine Initiative, a European Economic Interest Grouping. So far, 18 people have volunteered for a pre-enrollment health check-up, and nine people have begun the study.

Each of the volunteers will receive of payment of between €300 and €400 for their participation.

More healthy adults who have not had malaria are needed.

People interested in finding out more can visit the RCSI website www.rcsi.ie/tropmedresearch or email tropmed@rcsi.ie for further information.

The first results from the trial are expected later this year.

Irish Independent