Malaria vaccines

J Clin Immunol. 1996 Jul;16(4):183-9. doi: 10.1007/BF01541223.


Significant progress has been made in the development of the malaria vaccine during the last 20 years. Ninety percent of the 300-500 million clinical cases of malaria per year worldwide occur in Africa. Thus, research must be directed toward the 1 million African children under 5 years of age who die every year of malaria. An asexual blood-stage vaccine, capable of reducing severe and complicated malaria and malaria-related mortality, is therefore an important public health tool in these countries. Although knowledge of the parasite's biology is incomplete, research has allowed insight into some of the mechanisms that the parasite uses to evade host immunity. This is the basis for adopting an "antigenic cocktail" approach toward obtaining a synthetic or recombinant subunit vaccine such as the synthetic Colombian Malaria vaccine SPf 66. During the development of Spf66, field trials under both low and high malaria endemicity areas in Latin America and Africa have been carried out. The results from these studies showed a protective efficacy ranging between 38.8 and 60.2% against Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Given the characteristics of the normal immune response to malaria (relatively short-lived and not completely effective), it is understandable that the main goal is to try to increase the host's natural immunity. The best candidates for designing a malaria vaccine are the proteins required for parasite survival, those with low mutation rates and conserved epitopes. Because these proteins play an important role in multiple or alternative steps during the invasion process, they should be the targets against which a protective immune response should be elicited. The interaction between the malaria parasite and its host is complex. It is therefore crucial to define new ways of improving the immune response-such as directly modifying the chemical structure of epitopes or using new adjuvants or DNA immunization techniques-to produce novel vaccines against this disease.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / biosynthesis
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Gambia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Infant
  • Latin America / epidemiology
  • Malaria / immunology
  • Malaria / prevention & control
  • Malaria Vaccines* / administration & dosage
  • Malaria Vaccines* / adverse effects
  • Malaria Vaccines* / chemistry
  • Plasmodium falciparum / immunology
  • Protozoan Proteins / immunology
  • South America / epidemiology
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Vaccines, Synthetic* / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Synthetic* / adverse effects
  • Vaccines, Synthetic* / chemistry


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Epitopes
  • Malaria Vaccines
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Vaccines, Synthetic