Malaria vaccines just make the disease worse
Malaria is the scourge of the developing world – and it doesn’t look as though vaccines will be the answer. In fact, two vaccines that are undergoing tests could help the disease evolve into something more deadly.
Laboratory tests with mice show that the parasite evolves very quickly to become resistant to the vaccine – and more virulent as a result.
Two new malaria vaccines – RTS,S and AMA-1 – are medicine’s great hope in combating a disease that kills 2000 children every day, and affects millions more, in developing countries.
But tests at the Pennsylvania State University have discovered the incredible intelligence of the malaria parasite. It changes rapidly to resist the vaccine – making the vaccine itself ineffective within days and encouraging the spread of an even deadlier form of the disease.
(Source: PLoS Biology, 2012; doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001368).