Pinoy prof in US develops anti-malaria vaccine


By Jerrie M. Abella – A Filipino professor in the US has developed a “robust” vaccine against malaria.

Dr. Rhoel Dinglasan, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has developed a new kind of transmission-blocking vaccine (TBV), which works by preventing mosquitoes from spreading the disease.

In a newscast by GMA’s 24 Oras, Dinglasan, a faculty of the school’s molecular microbiology and immunology department, explained that the vaccine prevents the development of the malaria parasite in mosquitoes, thereby also preventing its transmission to humans.

An article on the website of Time magazine said that Dinglasan has developed the antigen AnAPN1 which stimulates the creation of antibodies in humans to prevent the transmission of malaria by mosquitoes.

The vaccine works, the article further stated, when a mosquito bites an inoculated person and picks up the antibodies, locking up the disease in the mosquito gut.

“For the next two years, we are going to be developing the pre-clinical aspects of this vaccine to determine whether or not we could actually make enough vaccines for clinical trials,” Dinglasan said in the newscast.

He added that it may take five to ten years for the vaccine to be fully developed and distributed.

Previous TBVs developed against malaria have proven unsuccessful, with some causing side effects like skin disorders when tested on humans. The AnAPN1 vaccine, according to the Time article, has only been tested in human blood in the laboratory and it has yet to be determined if it causes any negative reactions in people.

The Time article, nevertheless, describes Dinglasan’s TBV as “robust” as it has been proven effective against major types of malaria and all species of mosquitoes tested.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease common in tropical and sub-tropical regions, including regions in the Americas, Asia and Africa.

According to the World Health Organization, a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds. In 2006, there were 247 million cases of malaria, causing nearly one million deaths, mostly among African children.

In the Philippines, malaria remains a serious public health problem in thickly forested provinces such as Palawan.

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