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Malaria Vaccine Results: The Bigger Picture

November 12, 2012

You may have read some of the recent news reports about a malaria vaccine called RTS,S that has been in clinical trials in Africa. Today, the partners developing that vaccine, Glaxo Smith Kline and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, announced some results from an important trial  of that trial that were lower than we’d all hoped.  These data indicated that in young infants the vaccine provided 31% protection against malaria over one year after immunizations.  Full results can be found in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It’s important to remember a few things about this vaccine trial:

  • The RTS,S trials so far have given us the data to show that it is possible to vaccinate against a parasite.  That’s pretty amazing.
  • The study isn’t over and the final data won’t be available until 2014.
  • We need the full study data to determine what role the RTS,S vaccine will play in the fight against malaria.

It’s taken thirty years of development to get this vaccine to the point we’ve reached today. I had the privilege to work on it since 2001. These results mark an important scientific milestone in the fight against malaria.

I would personally like to thank all those who have participated and continue to participate in this effort – the principal investigators and their teams, the trial participants and countries hosting the trials, and the teams at the Malaria Vaccine Initiative and Glaxo Smith Kline.  

The world is making progress against malaria, but as we have seen this disease likes to fights back – when we let up, the disease comes back stronger than before. We need to keep up the fight on all fronts.

Learn more about how you can help keep up this fight at the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative website.

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