One person dies of it every 30 seconds, it rivals HIV and tuberculosis as the worlds most deadly infection and the vast majority of its victims are under five years old. Now, just over 100 years since Britains Sir Ronald Ross was awarded the Nobel Prize for finally proving that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, researchers at The University of Nottingham believe they have made a significant breakthrough in the search for an effective vaccine.
Malaria infects around 400 million people every year and kills between one and three million, mostly children.
Dr Richard Pleass, from the Institute of Genetics, said: Our results are very, very significant. We have made the best possible animal model you can get in the absence of working on humans or higher primates, as well as developing a novel therapeutic entity.
Using blood from a group of people with natural immunity to the disease, a team from the School of Biology refined and strengthened the antibodies using a new animal testing system which, for the first time, mimics in mice the way malaria infects humans. When injected into mice, these antibodies protected them against the disease.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says malaria is a public health problem in more than 90 countries and describes it as by far the world's most important tropical parasitic disease. It kills more people than any other communicable disease except tuberculosis and more than 90 per cent of all malaria cases are in sub-Saharan Africa. According to WHO, the dream of the global eradication of malaria is beginning to fade with the growing number of cases, rapid spread of drug resistance in people and increasing insecticide resistance in mosquitoes.
Until now there has been no reliable animal model for human malaria. Mice do not get sick when infected with the blood-borne parasite that causes malaria in people. And the immune system of mice shows a different response to humans when it c
Contact: Richard Pleass
University of Nottingham