At least 9 malaria vaccine candidates are in development, but Mosquirix is the farthest along. Glaxo has been refining it for 20 years, and expects to have spent up to $600 million on it by the time it comes to market. About $100 million has been paid by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.
This is really a test post, but that doesn't mean it can't have something interesting in it.
Malaria is one of the largest pathogenic killers in the world. Unlike AIDS it isn't much of a killer in the developed world, and unlike avian flu its not something new and exciting. Its one of those killers thats been around for a long time. Many of the deaths are in children under the age of five. This leads to a higher birthrate to make up for the death of children. When you're not sure how many of your children are going to make it to adulthood to take care of you in your old age, you're going to have more in order to increase your odds.
So onto this article, a New York Times write up of an article published in Lancet. Lancet, in case you don't know is a UK based medical journal and very well respected, it is however published by Elsevier, who is notorious in scientific circles for charging several arms and legs for a subscription. So the authors have given a little over 200 babies a shot of a protein from the membrane of Plasmodium falciparum which was fused with some hepatitis protein and a "booster." This lead to an immune reaction, the production of antibodies, and gave 45% of the children protection from malaria. The article notes that in the West this would be unacceptably low, but in Africa every little bit helps.
So while this is an imperfect vaccine, its really very amazing. Vaccines for these malaria causing parasites are hard because they spend so much time inside cells, away from those white blood cells and other forces in the human immune system. So how do you make a vaccine for something that doesn't normally produce an immune reaction? We can now artificially make proteins that are found on the outside of the pathogen and use those to induce the immune system.
At least 9 malaria vaccine candidates are in development, but Mosquirix[the vaccine] is the farthest along. Glaxo has been refining it for 20 years, and expects to have spent up to $600 million on it by the time it comes to market. About $100 million has been paid by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.
And here we have the part that makes me (and many others) squirm just a little. The $600 million bill for the R&D is part of what leads to the outrageous cost of Grandma's medicine and all those Flonase and Valtrex ads on TV. I seriously doubt that Glaxo will be making the $600 mil back from those who need this vaccine most, so the cost that Bill and Melinda don't pick up will be passed on to us. (Plus some interest so the CEO can make some mortgage payments I'm sure.)
For more about malaria I recommend the World Health Organization's Malaria page.