Some 300 million cases of malaria are reported each year in Africa, the continent where the disease is still running rampant. For decades, scientists have been investing immense amounts of energy battling the disease, trying to come up with effective treatments. The recent step forward in the war against malaria comes from Maryland-based biotech Sanaria, which reportedly has developed an anti-malaria vaccine with promising results to boast from a phase 1 clinical trial.
To make the vaccine, the researchers first irradiated parasite-infected mosquitoes, harvesting weakened parasites from the mosquitoes’ salivary glands, and then cryopreserving them. The idea that irradiated mosquitoes might be used for anti-malaria infection purposes isn’t new. Since the 1970′s it was shown that bites from irradiated, malaria-infected mosquitoes appeared to protect people from the disease, however at the time it was difficult to isolate large quantities of whole, irradiated parasites.