OXFORD – Researchers at the University of Oxford said Friday that the malaria vaccine they’re developing has shown to be highly effective against the life-threatening disease in an early trial.
A pre-print study published in The Lancet, researchers reported findings from a Phase IIb trial of a candidate malaria vaccine, which demonstrated high-level efficacy of 77% over 12-months of follow-up.
The researchers not that they are the first to meet the World Health Organization’s goal of a vaccine with at least 75% efficacy.
The trial included 450 child participants in Burkina Faso in West Africa. They ranged in age from 5 months to 17 months old.
The participants were split into three groups, with the first two groups receiving the either a low dose or high dose of the malaria vaccine candidate, and the third getting a rabies vaccine as the control group. The doses were administered from May 2019 to August 2019.
The researchers report a vaccine efficacy of 77% in the higher-dose adjuvant group, and 71% in the lower dose adjuvant group, over 12 months of follow-up, with no serious adverse events related to the vaccine noted.
Following these results, the Phase IIb trial was extended with a booster vaccination administered prior to the next malaria season one year later, Oxford said in a press release.
Researchers say they’ve now started recruiting for a Phase III licensure trial to assess large-scale safety and efficacy in 4,800 young children across four African countries.
“These are very exciting results showing unprecedented efficacy levels from a vaccine that has been well tolerated in our trial program. We look forward to the upcoming phase III trial to demonstrate large-scale safety and efficacy data for a vaccine that is greatly needed in this region,” wrote Halidou Tinto, Professor in Parasitology, Regional Director of IRSS in Nanoro, and the trial Principal Investigator in a statement.
According to the World Health Organization, Malaria is a disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitos. In 2019, there were an estimated 229 million cases of the disease with about 409,000 deaths, according to the organization. Children under 5 years old are the most vulnerable.