Sanaria's vaccine is but one of many efforts to defeat malaria. Here are some of the most promising.
(Business 2.0) - Using irradiated mosquitoes as the basis for a malaria vaccine is certainly a promising approach--but it's hardly the only one. Nearly 60 vaccine programs are currently in the works; most are trying to use the parasite's genetic material as the source for compounds to stimulate the human immune system. Oxford scientist Adrian Hill has created a vaccine using fragments of parasite proteins. The compound has shown promise in small-scale trials, though it is several years from formal tests.
Meanwhile, Hoffman's approach has inspired others to follow similar veins. Stefan Kappe of the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute weakens parasites by deleting a single gene. A vaccine using the modified bugs has conferred close to 100 percent immunity in lab mice.
There is also new hope for treating the disease after it takes hold. Novartis has created a drug called Coartem based on the sweet wormwood plant, an age-old folk remedy used in China that contains an extract, called artemisinin, that kills parasites. A cocktail of Coartem and the typical quinine-based medicines has in some cases proven more effective than quinine-based compounds alone. Novartis sold $6.4 million worth of Coartem over the past year. Wormwood, however, is relatively rare; thus, Novartis and others are looking to synthetic compounds that could produce more powerful ways to attack malaria.
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