Scientists at the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi and JNU have discovered a new molecule that can help develop a novel malaria vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum, one of the species of the parasite that causes malaria in humans.
In this basic research study, the scientists have discovered a novel multiprotein complex on the surface of the malaria parasite (Plasmodium falciparum) which is essential for red cell invasion and which poses as a highly potent vaccine target.
“Our work has not only advanced our understanding of the molecular mechanism of red cell invasion by the malaria parasite, but also has great implications for malaria vaccine development,” Deepak Gaur, associate professor, School of Biotechnology, JNU & scientist, ICGEB told HT.
Prof. VS Chauhan, head of the ICGEB malaria program said “We have conducted malaria trials before and this is an important discovery which we are fully capable of taking forward for clinical development.” The study has been published recently in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences US.
The global burden of P. falciparum malaria increased through the 1990s due to drug-resistant parasites and insecticide-resistant mosquitoes. This is illustrated by re-emergence of the disease in areas that had been previously malaria-free.
Current approaches are focusing on recombinant protein and attenuated whole organism vaccines. Various vaccines have reached the state of clinical trials; most demonstrated insufficient immunogenicity.