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Vaccinating humans to protect mosquitoes from malaria

Date: 24.10.2018 

For decades, scientists have been trying to develop a vaccine that prevents mosquitoes from spreading malaria among humans.

Kredit: James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.This unique approach – in which immunized humans transfer anti-malarial proteins to mosquitoes when bitten – is called a transmission-blocking vaccine (TBV). A few malarial TBVs have shown promise but they have not been widely tested due to unwanted side effects or limited effectiveness. That could change.

A biotechnology advancement reported Monday, Oct. 8, in the journal Nature Nanotechnology describes how a University at Buffalo-led research team has devised a simple way to boost the efficacy of malarial TBVs. If successful, it could help reduce the spread of the disease, which kills more than 400,000 people annually, mostly small children in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Malaria is a huge global problem. This approach – using a transmission-blocking vaccine – could be part of a suite of tools that we use to tackle the disease," says the study's lead author, Jonathan Lovell, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering, a joint program of UB's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

Prior research in this area has focused on techniques like genetic engineering and chemical binding of toxin proteins to boost TBV responses. Each strategy has potential, but they're also time- and resource-consuming. The biotechnology created by the UB-led research team differs in its relative ease of assemble and overall effectiveness, Lovell says.

 


 

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