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History of Vaccines Blog


January 31, 2011

Despite global efforts to disrupt malaria transmission using mosquito nets and drug therapies, the disease remains widespread: hundreds of millions of cases occur each year, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. While these measures can help to control the disease, an effective vaccine against malaria would be a major contribution to global public health.

The leading candidate vaccine against malaria is the RTS,S vaccine, which is currently in Phase III trials in seven countries in Africa. (Phase III trials are used to confirm the effectiveness of a drug as determined in Phase II trials, as well as to continue monitoring the drug for safety.) While this vaccine offers only partial protection against malaria—prior data showed it to be 53% effective eight months after vaccination—even this level of protection would be a significant improvement to public health efforts.

Posted in: Malaria, Public Health

December 7, 2010

Research for new articles about typhoid fever and cholera have kept us busy in The College's Historical Medical Library over the past week, and as usual, we stumbled across some great holdings. One that we particularly wanted to share was this map showing deaths from typhoid fever and malaria in Washington, D.C., from 1888-1892.

Click on the image or click here to be taken to its page in the Gallery, where you can zoom in on the map to see how the diseases affected the city's districts. With red dots representing deaths from typhoid, and blue representing deaths from malaria, the map documents 626 typhoid deaths and 363 from malaria over the five-year period.

Posted in: General, Historical Medical Library, Malaria, Public Health

July 12, 2010

Researchers have examined many possible approaches for vaccines against malaria, a parasitic illness spread by mosquitoes that affects hundreds of millions of people each year. One of the most promising approaches thus far has been a subunit vaccine: a vaccine candidate using this approach, RTS,S, is in late-stage clinical trials.

Researchers in Queensland, Australia have begun testing another approach, however: a vaccine that combines killed parasites with an adjuvant to boost immune response. The resulting vaccine was tested in mice, and was shown to provide long-lasting, cross-strain protection against malaria.

The group focused on developing a vaccine with the lowest possible dose of killed parasite that would still elicit a protective immune response. Their test vaccine induced a broadly reactive T cell response of the type usually generated by live, attenuated vaccines–yet with a safety profile more in line with a killed vaccine.

Posted in: General, Vaccine Research, Malaria