Kirsten Lyke, MD: Progress Toward Malaria Vaccine

OCTOBER 12, 2017
Jenna Payesko


Kirsten Lyke, MD, Institute for Global Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine: We're in a pretty exciting time in that malaria has been reduced by about 47% in terms of mortality and about 30% overall reduction in malaria since the year 2000, and that's primarily because of a huge influx of money from places like The Global Fund, Roll Back Malaria but also distribution of bed nets, implementation of medications. But I think we won't ever eradicate malaria unless we also have a vaccine to use as another tool in the armamentarium.

Malaria is kind of the holy grail of vaccine development. And the effort's been going on for 50 years and it's very tricky because not only does malaria have several stages that it passes through but it also sequesters within the red blood cell and that's an immunologic sanctuary, it doesn't have the proteins that are needed for antigen recognition, so it's essentially protected within the red blood cell, and then the third prong of why it's so tricky is because it has a very sophisticated genetic makeup that makes it a chameleon so that it's able to really change the coding rapidly and frequently so that there's almost limitless permutations of its genetic code. And that's very, very difficult to try to develop a vaccine against.

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