Malaria: Developing a whole-parasite vaccine

Malaria infection is caused by apicomplexan parasites of the genus Plasmodium and is transmitted through the bite of Anopheline mosquitoes. It continues to cause extensive morbidity and mortality globally [1]. Vector control measures, such as the use of insecticides and insecticide-treated bed nets, and prompt treatment of infection with antimalarial drugs have contributed to the significant decline in case incidence and mortality over the last decade. However, an effective malaria vaccine is the definitive tool if we are to progress towards the ambitious goal of malaria eradication.

The development of a vaccine has been a focus of malaria research for nearly a century. Despite this, we still lack a malaria vaccine that can induce long-lived protective immunity in residents of malaria-endemic areas. A number of factors have contributed to this: the complex nature and life cycle of the malaria parasite, its ability to rapidly evolve and evade the host immune system and our incomplete understanding of immunity.

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