Malaria Vaccine Candidate Diversity Offers Challenges and Opportunities for Effective Vaccine Development
Keywords:Malaria, vaccine, parasites
Malaria is one of the most deadly diseases caused by protozoan parasites of genus Plasmodium. It affects 300-500 million people annually, of which more than a million lives are lost; among them majority under 5 years of age. By conventional wisdom, the immune mechanisms responsible for protection against malaria will require a multiple of 10-15 antigen targets for proper protection against various stages of malarial infection. Such large number of targets cannot be delivered to humans, by this method. Moreover, each antigen is reported to be highly polymorphic in nature and the malaria-affected populations live in economically poor part of the world. Development of anti-malarial vaccines is therefore, a very tough challenge from technical, delivery and affordability points of view. Technical challenges include identification of epitopes / antigens against appropriate targets, construction of DNA vector(s) that will express properly folded functional protein. Vaccine delivery challenges include developing an easy method to deliver multiple doses within a short period of time to infants and children of less than five years of age. Affordability challenges include development of cost-effective vaccines that can be stored at room temperature and be easily delivered. Although the complex life cycle of Plasmodium is challenging for anti-malarial vaccine development, it also offers a lot of antigen targets (opportunities) to combat malaria. Information on anti-malarial vaccine candidates, DNA constructs and cost-effective delivery mechanism will be discussed.
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