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Malaria vaccine reaches "critical milestone"

PROGRESS: Dr. Sebastian Milolajczak, scientist for malaria research at the Center for Infectious Disease Research in South Lake Union, demonstrates with noninfected mosquitoes how volunteers were bitten. (Logan Riely/The Seattle Times)

A MALARIA vaccine that uses a weakened form of the parasite has passed a "critical milestone" in human safety trials, say researchers.

Doctors used a genetically modified form of malaria that was unable to cause a full infection in people, and according to trials published in the the journal Science Translational Medicine, it was safe and generated a good immune response.

Tropical disease experts described the findings as "promising".

Ten people took part in the safety trials, but no-one went on to develop the disease and there were no severe side-effects to the treatment.

The patients' antibodies were then given to mice, which showed greater immunity when they were deliberately infected with malaria.

Speaking on the results, Dr Sebastian Mikolajczak, one of the researchers, said: "The clinical study now shows that the vaccine is completely attenuated in humans and also shows that even after only a single administration, it elicits a robust immune response against the malaria parasite.

"Together these findings are critical milestones for malaria vaccine development."

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