James Beeson, Burnet
Institute: Malaria Antibodies Identified
August 03, 2012
Australian scientists say they have made an important discovery in the
fight against malaria. They have found that people in Africa who are
immune to malaria have developed powerful natural defenses against the
Around the world, a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds. The disease,
however, is preventable and curable.
Researchers at Melbourne's Burnet Institute who are searching for ways
to develop a vaccine believe that people in east Africa could help
unlock some of the secrets of this unremitting disease.
The scientists are investigating why some Kenyans have become immune to
malaria. They have identified antibodies, which are part of the body’s
natural defenses, that attack the malaria parasite.
The hope is that a vaccine can be developed to recreate this natural
Professor James Beeson, a public health physician at the Burnet
Institute, says it is an important breakthrough.
we know is that some people who develop malaria and recover, develop an
immune response that seems to then protect them against, you know,
subsequent infections or attacks," he said. "So the big question has
been how does the immune system do this? What specific part of the
malaria organism parasite does the immune system attack? And if we know
this, could we use this knowledge to develop a vaccine?"
Malaria causes about one million deaths every year, many of them
children under the age of five.
The mosquito-born disease is present in 90 countries across Africa,
South America and Asia.
It also prevalent in the South Pacific nations of Papua New Guinea, the
Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
Australian researchers believe that an effective vaccine could be
available within the next decade.