Randomized, double-blind, phase 2a trial of falciparum malaria vaccines RTS,S/AS01B and RTS,S/AS02A in malaria-naive adults: safety, efficacy, and immunologic associates of protection

J Infect Dis. 2009 Aug 1;200(3):337-46. doi: 10.1086/600120.


Background: To further increase the efficacy of malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS02A, we tested the RTS,S antigen formulated using the AS01B Adjuvant System (GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals).

Methods: In a double-blind, randomized trial, 102 healthy volunteers were evenly allocated to receive RTS,S/AS01B or RTS,S/AS02A vaccine at months 0, 1, and 2 of the study, followed by malaria challenge. Protected vaccine recipients were rechallenged 5 months later.

Results: RTS,S/AS01B and RTS,S/AS02A were well tolerated and were safe. The efficacy of RTS,S/AS01B and RTS,S/AS02A was 50% (95% confidence interval [CI], 32.9%-67.1%) and 32% (95% CI, 17.6%-47.6%), respectively. At the time of initial challenge, the RTS,S/AS01B group had greater circumsporozoite protein (CSP)-specific immune responses, including higher immunoglobulin (Ig) G titers, higher numbers of CSP-specific CD4(+) T cells expressing 2 activation markers (interleukin-2, interferon [IFN]-gamma, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, or CD40L), and more ex vivo IFN-gamma enzyme-linked immunospots (ELISPOTs) than did the RTS,S/AS02A group. Protected vaccine recipients had a higher CSP-specific IgG titer (geometric mean titer, 188 vs 73 mug/mL; P < .001), higher numbers of CSP-specific CD4(+) T cells per 10(6) CD4(+) T cells (median, 963 vs 308 CSP-specific CD4(+) T cells/10(6) CD4(+) T cells; P < .001), and higher numbers of ex vivo IFN-gamma ELISPOTs (mean, 212 vs 96 spots/million cells; P < .001). At rechallenge, 4 of 9 vaccine recipients in each group were still completely protected.

Conclusions: The RTS,S/AS01B malaria vaccine warrants comparative field trials with RTS,S/AS02A to determine the best formulation for the protection of children and infants. The association between complete protection and immune responses is a potential tool for further optimization of protection. Trial registration. ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT00075049.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Malaria Vaccines* / adverse effects
  • Malaria Vaccines* / immunology
  • Malaria Vaccines* / standards
  • Malaria, Falciparum / immunology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / prevention & control*
  • Mozambique / epidemiology
  • Parasitemia
  • Plasmodium falciparum / immunology*
  • Time Factors


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Malaria Vaccines

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00075049