Antibody drug tested as new anti-malaria agent
A new study conducted in the West African nation of Mali has found that an experimental drug protects adults from malaria for at least six months. one-dose the drug is the latest possible cure for the mosquito-borne disease.
In 2020, malaria killed more than 620,000 people and sickened 241 million. These were mostly children under the age of 5 in Africa.
The World Health Organization announces the first malaria vaccine for children. But it is only 30 percent effective and requires four doses.
A new study tested a very different idea. The drug gives people a big dose of the laboratory’s fight against malaria antibodies. The vaccine depends on immune system to make enough of those same infection blockers after vaccination.
dr. Kassoum Kayentao is at the University of Science, Technology and Technology in Bamako, Mali. He helped lead a study in two small villages in Mali. He said that “the available vaccine does not protect enough people”.
During the malaria season in some places in Mali, infected mosquitoes bite people on average twice a day.
The experimental antibody was created by researchers from the US National Institutes of Health. It is given intravenously or directly into withers.
It would be difficult to market the drug to a large number of people. But scientists are also testing a version of the therapy that would be easier to dispense.
The US government’s research was published on Monday at New England Journal of Medicine and was presented at a medical meeting in Seattle.
The antibody works by terminating life cycle of the a parasite, which is spread by mosquito bites. It targets the parasites early before they enter the liver, where they can grow and multiply. The drug is made from antibodies taken from a volunteer who received the malaria vaccine.
330 adults in Mali participated in the research. Study participants received either one of two different doses of the antibody or a placebo – a substance that is given to the patient like a drug but has no physical effect on the patient. All participants were tested for malaria infection every two weeks for 24 weeks. Anyone who got sick was treated.
Infections were determined by blood analysis in 20 people who received a higher dose. Infections were found in 39 people who received the lower dose. Eighty-six people who received the placebo became infected during the study period.
The higher dose was 88 percent effective compared to placebo. The lower dose was 75 percent effective.
Protection can last for several months of the malaria season.
The price is not yet known. But one estimate suggests that lab-made antibodies could be given for as little as $5 per child per malaria season.
dr. Johanna Daily works at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. She was not involved in the study. She said lab-made antibodies are being used to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases and COVID-19.
“The good news is that now we have another one, based on immunity therapy to try to control malaria,” she said.
I’m Dan Novak.
Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by the Associated Press.
The words in this story
dose — n. the amount of medicine, drug, or vitamin taken at one time
antibody — n. a substance produced by the body to fight disease
immune system — n. a system that protects your body from disease and infection
vein — n. any of the tubes that carry blood from parts of the body back to the heart
cycle — n. a set of events or actions that happen over and over again in the same order
a parasite — n. an animal or plant that lives in or on another animal or plant and receives food or protection from it
multiply — c. to increase significantly in number or quantity
participant — n. a person involved in an activity or event
therapy — n. treatment of physical or mental illnesses
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