Ruth Nussenzweig, Doc en Med, Ph.D., the C.V. Starr Professor of Medical and Molecular Parasitology, and her husband, Victor Nussenzweig, M.D., Ph.D., the Hermann M. Biggs Professor of Preventive Medicine, have devoted decades of research to preventing one of the world's biggest killers. Malaria afflicts hundreds of millions of people, causing up to 3 million deaths every year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of its victims are young children.
In a study reported today of more than 2,000 children in Mozambique, the vaccine reduced life-threatening attacks of malaria by 58 percent, and reduced milder forms of the disease by 30 percent. The study is published in the October 16, 2004, issue of The Lancet, a medical journal.
"This is really fantastic news," says Dr. Victor Nussenzweig. "It is the first time that a vaccine has been shown to protect against severe malaria, which is a major cause of death in children in Africa. It is not yet an ideal vaccine because it is expensive, requires three doses, and it isn't known yet how durable the vaccine's protection will be, but it is a very big step forward."
The vaccine, designated RTS.S/AS02A, contains a large portion of a protein called circumsporozoite (CS) protein, which coats malaria parasites that invade the liver. This protein, which the Nussenzweigs first isolated from parasites in 1980, is the basis for some 15 malaria vaccines that now are in clinical trials or in pre-clinical testing.
The vaccine, developed by GlaxoSmithKline in collaboration with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, contains a large portion of the CS protein fused with a part of another
Contact: Pamela McDonnell
New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine