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Biol Chem. 2001 Apr;382(4):553-70.

Progress toward a malaria vaccine: efficient induction of protective anti-malaria immunity.

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Department of Medical and Molecular Parasitology, New York University School of Medicine, NY 10010, USA.


Malaria can be a very severe disease, particularly in young children, pregnant women (mostly in primipara), and malaria naïve adults, and currently ranks among the most prevalent infections in tropical and subtropical areas throughout the world. The widespread occurrence and the increased incidence of malaria in many countries, caused by drug-resistant parasites (Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax) and insecticide-resistant vectors (Anopheles mosquitoes), indicate the need to develop new methods of controlling this disease. Experimental vaccination with irradiated sporozoites can protect animals and humans against the disease, demonstrating the feasibility of developing an effective malaria vaccine. However, developing a universally effective, long lasting vaccine against this parasitic disease has been a difficult task, due to several problems. One difficulty stems from the complexity of the parasite's life cycle. During their life cycle, malaria parasites change their residence within the host, thus avoiding being re-exposed to the same immunological environment. These parasites also possess some distinct antigens, present at different life stages of the parasite, the so-called stage-specific antigens. While some of the stage-specific antigens can induce protective immune responses in the host, these responses are usually genetically restricted, this being another reason for delaying the development of a universally effective vaccine. The stage-specific antigens must be used as immunogens and introduced into the host by using a delivery system that should efficiently induce protective responses against the respective stages. Here we review several research approaches aimed at inducing protective anti-malaria immunity, overcoming the difficulties described above.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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