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Vaccine. 2009 Jan 1;27(1):2-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.10.028. Epub 2008 Oct 28.

Reflections on early malaria vaccine studies, the first successful human malaria vaccination, and beyond.

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Department of Medical Parasitology, New York University School of Medicine, 341 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, USA.


Advances towards protective vaccines against malaria were made feasible by the development of a rodent model of mammalian malaria that allowed production of all stages of the malaria parasite for study. Investigations with sporozoites (the stage transmitted by mosquitoes in their saliva) demonstrated that immunization with radiation-attenuated sporozoites could produce a solid, sterile immunity, first shown in studies with mice and later with human volunteers. Protective immune mechanisms involve anti-sporozoite antibodies that immobilize sporozoites injected into the skin by mosquitoes, followed by CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells acting against liver stage parasites produced by sporozoites that have escaped antibody-based immunity and invaded hepatocytes. Two alternative approaches now being used in human trials are immunization with intact, attenuated sporozoites vs. immunization with "sub-unit" vaccines based on immunogenic components of sporozoites or liver stage parasites. In addition to immunization against these pre-erythrocytic stages, encouraging progress is being made on immunization against blood stage parasites and on immunization for production of transmission-blocking antibodies. There is reason to be optimistic that one or more of the approaches will work on a large scale, and that a multi-stage vaccine may be able to combine several of these approaches in a sequential immunological assault against the malaria parasite as it progresses through its stages.

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