Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thinking outside the box for malaria vaccines

Scientists at the University of Maryland are working to create a genetically-modified super-mosquito, capable of carrying many more of the parasites responsible for causing malaria in humans. They're doing so because Sanaria, Inc. is trying to develop a vaccine using live malaria. The motivation is based off tests that were held years ago on Sanaria's CEO and some colleagues, in which they purposely exposed themselves to low-levels of malaria. The parasite stayed harmlessly in their livers, but they developed immunity to malaria for about 10 months. Sanaria is now developing a vaccine, but it takes 3000 mosquitoes to produce one dose, so they're trying to genetically engineer mosquitoes with more capacity.

Another lab at Maryland University is also helping to do just the opposite--hinder mosquitoes' malaria-carrying capacity and infectivity.

Both are ways of "thinking outside the box" about malaria vaccines, but as of now, both are very small, rudimentary steps. But steps, nonetheless.

Andrew Beck

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