Indian Discovery Gives Boost to Hopes for Malaria Vaccine

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Over 200 million cases of malaria are reported in the world each year, a million in India (Representational image). (Picture credit: Thinkstock)

New Delhi:  A stunning new discovery in India could in future lead to the development of a new vaccine against malaria.

A team of scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in New Delhi have discovered a novel molecule that they say could one day become a vaccine against malaria.

Dr Deepak Gaur, a malaria scientist, at these institutions told NDTV, "This is an Indian discovery of a novel antigen, which is very essential for the parasite to enter the red blood cells, and what we have shown is that antibodies against this novel antigen can block the parasite from entering the red blood cells and it works against multiple strains across the world. Hence, it has great relevance with respect to developing a malaria vaccine in the future."

The discovery is causing a global buzz ever since the team of young scientists published their work in the prestigious US journal, 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences'.

Over 200 million cases of malaria are reported in the world each year, a million in India. Scientists the world over are toiling hard to find a solution, but an effective malaria vaccine is yet to be found.

Dr Virander S Chauhan, a malaria vaccine specialist at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, said, "There are just four or five very good molecular targets in the world that people are working with to make a malaria vaccine. From our laboratory experiments, this discovery is one of the very exciting new candidates and we would like to take it as soon as possible for clinical development."

The road for the development of an effective vaccine against malaria is bumpy and littered with failures, and this Indian team will have to spend at least another decade toiling hard to see if it really pans out to be a vaccine.

But at least a new window of hope has been opened up.
 

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