In the absence of any highly effective vaccine candidate against Plasmodium falciparum malaria, it remains imperative for the field to pursue all avenues that may lead to the successful development of such a formulation. The development of a subunit vaccine targeting the asexual blood-stage of Plasmodium falciparum malaria infection has proven particularly challenging with only limited success to date in clinical trials. However, only a fraction of potential blood-stage vaccine antigens have been evaluated as targets, and a number of new promising candidate antigen formulations and delivery platforms are approaching clinical development. It is therefore essential that reliable and sensitive methods of detecting, or ruling out, even modest efficacy of blood-stage vaccines in small clinical trials be established. In this article we evaluate the challenges facing blood-stage vaccine developers, assess the appropriateness and limitations of various in vivo approaches for efficacy assessment and suggest future directions for the field.
Keywords: clinical; efficacy; falciparum; malaria; vaccine.