Study succeeds in predicting effectiveness of malaria vaccines

Suggests that effectiveness could be increased by stimulating the person’s immune system prior to immunization against the disease

Research by the Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Barcelona has demonstrated the existence of a series of molecular biomarkers capable of predicting whether or not a vaccine is effective against malaria —which caused nearly 400,000 deaths worldwide in 2018—28. This would make it possible to identify which people are protected before administering it.

The journal Science Translational Medicine has published the results of the study, which conclude that the effectiveness of vaccines could be increased by stimulating the immune system prior to immunization against the disease.

However, the first author of the study, ISGlobal researcher Gemma Moncunill, acknowledges that among the main obstacles to developing an effective vaccine against malaria are the absence of immune protection markers and limited knowledge of the mechanisms that confer such protection.

Centro Interpretacion del Paludismo Losar de la Vera

As an example, for the study the researchers used genomic techniques combined with data science and artificial intelligence to identify the molecular profiles that predict the effectiveness of a vaccine.

By comparing two vaccines and using white blood cells obtained from 24 adult volunteers before or after being immunized with each of the vaccines, it was determined after extensive analysis of the genes expressed by the white blood cells after immunization that there is a molecular profile associated with protection by both vaccines; and a preimmunization molecular profile associated with protection was also identified.

All of this led the study coordinator, Carlota Dobaño, to conclude that «these results suggest that there are common protective responses to malaria, and confirm the potential of this type of comprehensive approach to understand in depth the immunogenicity of vaccines and identify the molecular responses associated with protection against complex diseases.

If you want to know a little more about malaria, we recommend this course carried out by the Yuste Foundation in its Yuste Campus (in Spanish).

And, as soon as possible, don’t miss a visit to the Malaria Interpretation Center, member of this network of routes, in Losar de la Vera (Cáceres).


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