Newly Described Human Antibody Prevents Malaria in Mice


Source: NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Summary: Researchers have discovered a human antibody that protected mice from infection with the deadliest malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.


Currently, there is no highly effective, long-lasting vaccine to prevent malaria, a mosquito-spread disease that causes some 430,000 deaths each year, primarily among young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers from National Institute of Health and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have discovered a human antibody that protected mice from infection with the deadliest malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. The research findings provide the basis for future testing in humans to determine if the antibody can provide short-term protection against malaria, and also may aid in vaccine design. The findings were published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Plasmodium falciparum

The malaria sporozoites, the infectious form of the malaria parasite. Credit: NIAID

The research team isolated the antibody, called CIS43, from the blood of a volunteer who had received an experimental vaccine made from whole, weakened malaria parasites (PfSPZ Vaccine-Sanaria). The volunteer was later exposed to infectious malaria-carrying mosquitoes under carefully controlled conditions and did not become infected. In two different models of malaria infection in mice, CIS43 was highly effective at preventing malaria infection. If confirmed through additional studies in people, CIS43 could be developed as a prophylactic measure to prevent infection for several months after administration. The researchers are planning to assess the safety and protective efficacy of the newly described CIS43 antibody next year in controlled human malaria infection challenge trials.

Such a prophylactic antibody could be useful for tourists, health care workers, military personnel or others who travel to areas where malaria is common. Moreover, if the antibody prevented malaria infection for up to 6 months, it might be combined with antimalarial drugs and be deployed as part of mass drug administration efforts that potentially could eliminate the disease in malaria-endemic regions.


More Information: Neville K Kisalu, “A human monoclonal antibody prevents malaria infection by targeting a new site of vulnerability on the parasite”, Nature Medicine (2018).nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/nm.4512 


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