Maryland-based company, Sanaria, winner of the Vaccine Industry Excellence Award for Best Early-Stage Vaccine Biotech, has recently been granted permission from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin trial test on Human adult volunteers.
Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which multiplies in the liver and infects the red blood cells. Malaria, if not treated quickly, can turn fatal due to the disruption of the blood supply to vital organs.
The company hopes to develop and commercialize a malaria sporozoite vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum. Of the four different types of human malaria, Plasmodium falciparum is one of the most common and is the most deadly. The parasite is responsible for greater than 95 percent of malaria-associated severe illness and death world-wide.
Most malaria vaccines in clinical development are made genetically engineered proteins that represent small portions of the parasite however, Sanaria’s vaccine is made of a weakened form of the whole malaria parasite. Other diseases such as, smallpox, polio, and measles are cured using this type of live vaccine.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, with 247 million cases of malaria in 2006 alone, causing one million deaths. With such a large portion of the world in danger of contracting malaria, the development of a vaccine to combat Plasmodium falciparum would have an unimaginable effect on the world and would save a significant number of human lives.
How to tell if you’ve been infected
The most common early symptoms of malaria are fever, headache, chills, and vomiting, which usually appear within 10-15 days after a person is infected. If treatment is not received quickly and effectively, the illness may become severe and very often result in death.