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Researchers Modify Yellow Fever Vaccine To Fight Malaria

Posted Jun 08 2010 5:35pm

There is no vaccine for malaria, which sickens almost a quarter of a billion people each year and kills a child every 30 seconds. That could be changing: researchers at The Rockefeller University have genetically transformed the yellow fever vaccine to prime the immune system to fend off the mosquito borne parasites that cause the disease. The researchers found that the modified vaccine, along with a booster, provided mice with immunity to the deadly disease.

Malaria is one of the most pressing health crises of developing countries: in communities stricken by infection, attendance at work and school drops, and poverty deepens. It has been known since the 1960s that one form of the malaria parasite — called the sporozoite
“We needed to come up with another way to get the benefits of sporozoite immunization,” says Charles M. Rice, head of the Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Disease. Along with researchers from Michel C. Nussenzweig’s Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at Rockefeller and colleagues at New York University, Rice and his team considered that fighting infection with infection might be the key. They began experimenting with the attenuated yellow fever strain used in the yellow fever vaccine, known as YF17D, which has been used to successfully vaccinate more than 400 million people since 1937. Previous work in the Rice laboratory and by others had shown that this vaccine strain could be modified to include short sequences from other pathogens, including malaria.

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